December 11, 2018

Hessian princesses at Russian Imperial Court

Frankfurt am Man, Hesse, Germany, Tuesday, 19 December 2017: Under the auspices of the Russian Ministry of Culture, with the support of the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Germany as well as of the former Grand Ducal House of Hesse, the exhibition titled “Liebe, Glanz und Untergang. Die hessischen Prinzessinnen in der russischen Geschichte” (Love, Glory and Fall. Hessian princesses in Russian history) opened its door knitting the knots linking Russia to the modern federal state of Hesse. 

In total 324 items, mostly from Russian collections located in Moscow and St. Petersburg, are on display at the Ikonen-Museum in Frankfturt am Main. All in all the exorbitant yet sad fates of four Hessian princesses are portrayed. 

One begins with Princess Wilhelmine Luise  of Hesse-Darmstadt (1755-1776), first wife of the then Tsarevitch Pavel (later Emperor Pavel I), only son of Piotr III and Yekaterina II the Great. She died tragically giving birth to a still-born son. In Russia was she known under the name Tsesarevna Natalia Alexeievna. 

She was followed by Marie of Hesse and by Rhine (1824-1880) under the Orthodox name Maria Alexandrovna rebaptised, wife of Emperor Aleksandr II. 

The story continues with “Ella” (Elisabeth of Hesse and by Rhine or Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna of Russia, 1864-1918) who wed Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich, and lived an unhappy married life. After the latter’s assassination she became the founder and Abbess of the Marfo-Mariinsky Convent, and gifted almost all her private wealth to the poor. In 1918 she was arrested, and subsequently executed by the Soviets. 

Ella’s sister, was the well-known Alix (1872-1918). As Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, was the last Russian imperial consort and has been now canonised by the Russian Orthodox Church. 

The exhibition was opened by the Russian Ambassador to Germany, Vladimir Grinin in the presence of His Royal Highness Landgrave Donatus of Hesse and by Rhine, Head of the former Grand Ducal House of Hesse. 


For further information:

Ikonen-Museum in Frankfurt am Main:

Grand Ducal House of Hesse (Hessische Hausstiftung, HRH Landgrave Heinrich Donatus of Hesse and by Rhine):,_Landgrave_of_Hesse

Embassy of the Russian Federation to Germany (HE Ambassador Vladimir Grinin):



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