Rare letters from Rus­sian Im­pe­rial fam­ily to beloved Swiss tu­tor re­veal world of ig­no­rance

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - AUCTIONS -

A RARE col­lec­tion of 2 000 pho­tos and unedited letters sent by the sib­lings of the last Rus­sian tsar Nicolas II to their Swiss tu­tor will go un­der the ham­mer on Mon­day.

The col­lec­tion of 1 000 letters, 250 pho­tos, 400 tele­grams, 150 post­cards and 12 im­pe­rial lunch menus was dis­cov­ered in a trunk by the de­scen­dants of the tu­tor, Fer­di­nand Thormeyer, said Geneva auc­tion­eer Bernard Piguet.

The letters were ex­tra­or­di­nary due to their very high de­gree of in­ti­macy, he said.

The cor­re­spon­dence sent from 1881 to 1959 “was not meant to be di­vulged and gives us his­tory from the in­te­rior”, said the auc­tion­eer, adding that “the pas­sion­ate doc­u­ments” re­veal “an im­age of the im­pe­rial fam­ily that is re­ally sur­pris­ing”.

“We dis­cover peo­ple who are dis­con­nected from re­al­ity, who did not see ev­ery­thing that would hap­pen” dur­ing the 1917 revo­lu­tion.

Piguet added that it was clear from the cor­re­spon­dence that “they loved their coun­try (and) the Rus­sian peo­ple other than the Bol­she­viks, who they re­garded as the devil’s dis­ease”.

“We sense an ex­treme nice­ness; they never said any­thing bad about any­one; maybe this is a side that we do not see of the im­pe­rial fam­i­lies,” he said.

For Piguet, the letters are valu­able be­cause of the re­la­tion­ship they re­veal be­tween the tu­tor and the chil­dren “whom he has ed­u­cated and who re­mained very at­tached to him. They told him ev­ery­thing and asked him some­times for ad­vice”.

The Swiss tu­tor, who had stud­ied in Rus­sia be­fore be­ing hired by the im­pe­rial fam­ily, “was a very dis­creet man, very cul­ti­vated and very in­flu­en­tial. He was so close that he gave them his opin­ion”.

Most of the pho­tos put on sale had been taken by Thormeyer, who had re­turned to Switzer­land af­ter 1900 and worked for the Red Cross, said Piguet.

The col­lec­tion of 45 lots is es­ti­mated to fetch be­tween € 50 000 and € 80 000 (R460 000R736 000). – Sapa-AFP

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