RUSSIA – DASCHKAW FAMILY. Album of watercolors of family members, art objects, etc. c.1873-1903.
Watercolor drawings documenting members of the powerful Princess Daschkaw and her family. It was prepared by Catherine Anne Daschkaw Brooke, née Bradford (1813-1881), whose signature, dated 1873, appears on the front flyleaf. Brooke was the daughter of Martha Wilmot Bradford (1775-1873), a close confidante of Princess Daschkaw from 1803-1808. Princess Daschkaw, i.e. Yekaterina Romanovna Vorontsova-Dashkova (1743-1810), was the closest female friend of Empress Catherine the Great and a participant in the coup d’etat that placed her on the throne. The Princess was also a major figure of the Russian Enlightenment and the first woman in the world to head a national academy of sciences. The Princess’s memoirs were first issued in Paris in 1804, and when they were translated from the original French into English and published in London in 1840 ( Memoirs of the Princess Daschkaw, written by herself), it was Martha Wilmot Bradford who edited the work. This album includes numerous fine watercolor drawings, accompanied by handwritten captions in English, of Daschkaw family members (including several of the Princess at various stages of her life), members of the Russian royal family, typical Russian characters (e.g., Cossack boy, “pashinka,” etc.), and art objects (e.g., fans, snuff boxes, jewelry, decorative objects, etc.) once in the family’s possession; a charming watercolor miniature of Martha Wilmot adorns the front pastedown. Most watercolors of art objects include updated annotations signed “Mrs Bradford” (presumably a descendent of Brooke) and dated from 1893-1903 regarding the current status of the object, i.e., whether still in the possession of the family. Folio (463 x 355mm). 39 watercolor drawings, most full page, mounted on 33 leaves, with captions on separate preceding leaves (one drawing loose; occasional light spotting). Contemporary dark gray calf, with brass clasps (a few scratches on boards, extremities lightly worn).