On October 10, Dr. Wilfried Zeisler, chief curator of Hillwood Museum, Estate & Gardens, presented an online lecture titled “Shopping and Collecting in Paris: The Fate of the Collection of Princess Olga Paley and Grand Duke Paul of Russia.” The presentation was part of the Russian History Museum’s Second Saturday lecture series.

Described in Marcel Proust’s A La Recherche du temps perdu (In Search of Lost Time) as a friend of Madame de Guermantes, Princess Olga Paley, known as Countess Olga de Hohenfelsen, was the second and morganatic wife of Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich, youngest child of Emperor Alexander II of Russia. Because they married without the permission of Emperor Nicholas II, they had to leave Russia. Living in Paris beginning in 1904, the couple was welcomed by Parisian society and amassed an impressive art collection over the subsequent decade that they transferred to Russia just prior to the outbreak of World War I. Based on new research published in Wilfried Zeisler’s book Vivre la Belle Epoque à Paris: Paul de Russie et Olga Paley, this lecture will explore Parisian life during the Belle Epoque through the eyes of Olga de Hohenfelsen and Grand Duke Paul, as well as their fate after their return to Russia in 1914.

This program is funded in part by a Humanities New York CARES Grant with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the federal CARES Act.

About the Speaker

Dr. Wilfried Zeisler is Hillwood’s chief curator. He is a graduate of Sorbonne University and the Ecole du Louvre, Paris. Wilfried has written extensively on French and Russian decorative arts, including a 2010 book on French ceramics commemorating the French-Russian Alliance, several articles, and contributions to books. Wilfried’s dissertation, L’Objet d’art et de luxe français en Russie (1881-1917) [French Objets d’art and Luxury Goods in Russia], was published in Paris in 2014. Between 2009 and 2011, he has participated in and curated exhibitions in Paris and Monaco. At Hillwood, his most recent exhibitions were Fabergé Rediscovered (2018), Bouke de Vries: War and Pieces (2019), and Natural Beauties: Exquisite Works of Minerals and Gems (2020). Wilfried co-authored Konstantin Makovsky: The Tsar’s Painter in America and Paris (2015), and is the author of Fabergé Rediscovered  and Vivre la Belle Epoque à Paris — Paul de Russie et Olga Paley, both published in 2018. He is currently working on two book projects, one exploring the connections between the Yusupovs and Parisian culture and the second on the collection of Marjorie Post, Hillwood’s founder (co-authored with Hillwood’s curatorial team).