Portrait of Elena Romanoff signed in Latin and dated '1956' (lower left) oil on canvasboard 60 x 49.5cm (23 5/8 x 19 1/2in).
PROVENANCE: Commissioned from the artist in 1956 Thence by descent
Elena Konstantinovna Romanoff-Modling, née Dourneff, was born in Tokyo, in 1926 to a family of Russian émigré parents who settled in Japan after escaping the Russian Revolution. The family's successful leather clothing business afforded Elena an excellent education and a comfortable lifestyle. Fluent in Russian, English, French and Japanese, she was actively involved in the life of the Russian community in central Tokyo. Barely surviving the bombing of Tokyo during the Second World War, the family left Japan on board the S.S. General Meigs and eventually settled in San Francisco. Once again, Elena found herself actively involved in the rich social and cultural life of the Russian émigré community. There she met the handsome Prince Andrei Andreevich Romanoff, grandson of Grand Duchess Ksenia Aleksandrovna of Russia. Born and raised in the grounds of Windsor Castle, the dashing Prince served in the British Navy during the Second World War and came to California at the request of his uncle, Prince Vassily Aleksandrovich. The coincidental introduction led to romance and the couple was eventually married in 1951 at the old Holy Virgin Cathedral in San Francisco. The young girl from Japan had become Princess Elena Romanoff.
The present portrait was painted in the family room of Elena's house in Oakland, California in 1956. Regretfully, her fairy-tale marriage did not last, as the couple divorced a few years after the portrait was painted. Elena re-married, worked for Japanese Air lines for 25 years and passed away in 1991, until the very end retaining her beauty, elegance and sense of style so breathtakingly captured by the present portrait.