Rare and amusing snap shot style photo circa January 1890, taken at The Cannes Golf Club, now known as The Mandelieu Golf Club in Cannes, mounted onto an album page. In the photograph is pictured the morganatic wife of Grand Duke Michael Mikhailovich (1861-1929), Countess Sophie von Merenberg, Countess of Torby (1868-1927), with friends playing instruments:
1. Princess Elena Orbeliani
3. Madame Louis van Loon
4. Countess Torby
5. xxx Brambeen
6. Vicomte de Mourtiers Merriville
7. Gaza Orbeliani
Sophie de Torby was the eldest daughter of Prince Nicholas William of Nassau and Natalia Alexandrovna Pushkina. She was born in Geneva, Switzerland, the first born of Prince Nicholas and Natalia Pushkina. Since the marriage of the parents was considered morganatic, it was considered inappropriate for her to have her father's title and rank. Her paternal grandparents were William, Duke of Nassau, and Pauline Princess of Württemberg, while the maternal ones were the famous Russian poet Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin and Natalia Nikolaevna Goncharova. She was given the title of Countess von Merenberg.
She married morganatically, on 10th March 1891, Grand Duke Michael, grandson of Nicholas I of Russia at Sanremo, Italy. Sophia was later created Countess de Torby by her uncle, Adolphe, Grand Duke of Luxembourg and the title was extended to all three of her children. For contracting this marriage without permission, Emperor Alexander III of Russia, stripped Michael of his military titles and banished the couple from Russia.
For some years they lived in Wiesbaden, Nassau and in Cannes. They later settled permanently in England, leasing Keele Hall in Staffordshire and later Kenwood House on the outskirts of London.
He lost his fortune with the fall of the Russian monarchy in 1918. Three of his brothers were killed by the Bolsheviks, but he escaped the Russian Revolution because he was living abroad. He spent his last years living under reduced circumstances with the financial help of his son-in-law Sir Harold Wernher.
They had two daughters and one son:
Countess Anastasia Mikhailovna de Torby (1892-1977); married, in 1917, Sir Harold Wernher, 3rd Baronet.
Countess Nadejda Mikhailovna de Torby (1896-1963); married, in 1916, Prince George of Battenberg (later 2nd Marquess of Milford Haven).
Count Michael Mikhailovich of Torby (1898-1959).
From the collection of Richard and Mary Winslow, English/American aristocrats who had the Villa Winslow in Cannes during the 1890s and were friends with aristocrats and royals from all over the world. Mary was a great beauty and had by family tradition once been a mistress of the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII.
Photo Size: 11 x 7 cm approx