The State Hermitage Museum was the site Tuesday of the official return of a painting by Fyodor Bognevsky, to the Russian Museum, and watercolors by Mikhail Zichi and Kumming to the Museum-Preserve of Tsarskoye Selo. The repatriations were the result of the efforts of the Department for the Preservation of Cultural Values. As Vladimir Gusev, the director of the Russian Museum, said at a press conference in the Hermitage, 'When we work together, the results are always good.'
Gusev said Bognevsky's 'Portrait of the Grand Princess Aleksandra Pavlovna,' which disappeared from the Russian Museum during World War II, was discovered by specialists of the Russian Ministry of Culture on offer at Sotheby's during that auction house's most recent 'Russian Auction.' At the request of the ministry, the painting was removed from sale. With the help of Jacob Rothschild, the wealthy London-based financier, the painting was purchased from the owner for EUR 24,000 and returned to the museum. In addition, Ksenia and Dmitri Grabbe, who live in the United States, turned over to a representative of the Tsarskoye-Selo Museum-Preserve at the Russian Consulate in New York last May three watercolors taken from the Alexander Palace by German officers during the war. The works-Mikhail Zichi's Nikolai II and Aleksandra Fyodorovna, Nikolai II and the Painter at the Tree on which Aleksandr III Carved the Letter A and Kumming's Blue Boudoir in the Home of Count Brevern de-la-Gardi--have now been triumphantly restored to the holdings of the Museum-Preserve of Tsarskoye Selo. All the watercolors bore on their reverse sides identifying numbers from the Alexander Palace-Museum.