On the Estate: Memoirs of a Russian Lady Before the Revolution
Thames & Hudson Ltd
1 Jan 2011
Mariamna Davydoff, the Russian lady who wrote and illustrated this memoir, was born in 1871. It was after she fled Russia for France in 1919 that she set down her detailed recollections and painted the accompanying watercolors. She did this mainly to enlighten one of her granddaughters about the family's life in the last decades of Tsarist Russia. The result is a first-hand account of a way of life that we've known mainly through the writings of Chekhov and Turgenev. Here are the country estates, the large families indulging in sports and pastimes, the Easter and Christmas holidays, the heat of summer and the frost of winter. Mariamna Davydoff had studied painting and made something of a reputation as a caricaturist, but when she fled from Russia she had to leave behind all her watercolors and drawings. These were destroyed by the Bolsheviks, but the portfolios she created in France are fortunately intact. This book will appeal to anyone with an interest in 19th-century Russian history, art or literature, or simply in the deeply human story of our recent but irretrievable past.