Grand Duke George Mikhailovich (1863-1919): Important Group of Four World War I Photograph Albums
Early 20th Century
Enclosing approximately 1,000 photographs in four albums, depicting Grand Duke George Mikhailovich with family and in various locations during World War I, including throughout the Russian Empire, at the Stavka in Mogilev, the Far East (China, Korea), and on a diplomatic mission to Japan in 1915-1916; included in the photographs are Emperor Nicholas II, Tsarevich Alexei Nikolaevich, Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich, Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich, General Brusilov, General Tatishchev, and various Japanese dignitaries.
Grand Duke George Mikhailovich (1863-1919) and Grand Duchess Marie Georgievna (1876-1940)
Princess Nina Georgievna Chavchavadze (1901-1974)
Prince David Pavlovich Chavchavadze (1924-2014)
By descent to the present owner
Grand Duke George Mikhailovich, who had a limited military career due to injury, entered the army in World War I as a lieutenant general. By 1915, he was appointed aide-de-camp to the commander in chief, and Emperor Nicholas II appointed him supervisor of operations, in which capacity he reported to the emperor on the situation at the front.
In December 1915, Nicholas II sent Grand Duke George on an important diplomatic mission to Japan. From the beginning of the year, the Japanese had openly expressed a desire for an alliance with Russia, as both nations were fighting against Germany and the Central Powers. Japanese Field Marshal and former prime minister, Yamagata Aritomo, was a major advocate of the alliance. After his proposal was rebuffed by Prime Minister Okuma Shigenobu's cabinet, Yamagata enlisted the support of Emperor Taisho to encourage a visit to Tokyo by a member of the Russian Imperial Family. Major General Nakajima Masatake, an observer to the general headquarters of the Russian army, was tasked with approaching the emperor's surgeon, Sergei Fedorov. Masatake remarked to Fedorov that should the emperor send the grand duke to Japan, the Japanese would be duly impressed and would intensify their efforts to help Russia in the battle with Germany. Nicholas II immediately dispatched Grand Duke George to Japan ostensibly to congratulate Emperor Taisho on his formal enthronement ceremonies in November 1915.
Prior to arriving in Japan, Grand Duke George visited Korea and returned to Russia at the beginning of 1916 by way of Vladivostok, inspecting the situation in the Far East on the way.
In July 1916, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Sazonov and Japanese Ambassador Motono Ichiro signed a treaty in Petrograd which created a military and political alliance. The five-year alliance was to remain secret until the Bolsheviks seized power one year later and declared an end to secret treaties.
The present lot, part of the personal collection of Grand Duke George Mikhailovich and never before seen in public, includes an extensive group of photographs which document the Grand Duke's 1915 diplomatic visit to Japan.
For further information on the Russo-Japanese alliance, please see V. Molodiakov, "The Secret Alliance with Japan Shattered by the Russian Revolution." Nippon.com, November 6, 2017, https://www.nippon.com/en/column/g00377/?pnum=1.
C Property from the Descendants of Grand Duke George Mikhailovich of Russia
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