Regal Royals

By Jayna Josefson
January 31, 2011
Photograph of the Duchess of Cambridge, between 1884 and 1889
Duchess of Cambridge, between 1884 and 1889, Stanislaus Julian Walery, photographer. Charles Scribner’s Sons Art Reference Dept. records, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Document regarding the Dombrova coat of arms from Poland
Notes on the collection of the Comte de Greffulhe between 1935 and 1955. Jacques Seligmann & Co. records, 1913-1974, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

This archivist has a bad case of Royal Wedding Fever. I wasn’t around for the Prince Charles-Lady Di extravaganza, so I refuse to miss a single minute of Kate Middleton and Prince William’s nuptials! I have plans to wake up in the middle of the night to watch the wedding on television complete with a champagne toast in my pajamas.

For those of you who can’t get enough of the glitz and glamour, we have plenty of royal records at the Archives of American Art to feed the need. The papers of painter, writer, and minor noble John D. Graham, born Ivan Dombrowsky, are fully digitized and online.   They come complete with a certificate of nobility from the Russian Crown.

Regarding the collection of the Comte de Greffulhe between 1935 and 1955
Notes on the collection of the Comte de Greffulhe between 1935 and 1955. Jacques Seligmann & Co. records, 1913-1974, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Along the same lines, within Edith Halpert’s 1962–63 oral history interview with Harlan Phillips, the art dealer describes the time she saw a procession of the Tsar and Tsarina of Russia. Unfortunately, they did not adhere to her fairytale image of royalty (no crowns or tiaras!).

Perhaps my favorite collection for royal–stalking is the Jacques Seligmann and Co. records. The collector’s files and correspondence are full of fantastically titled nobles. It seems so fitting that the Comtesse Greffulhe would buy a Fragonard and a Watteau.

Wouldn’t you love to gaze at the art collections of the Princesse de Poix, Comte Raymond de Castellane, or Princess Thurn und Taxis-Metternich? Follow the links to take a look at some of their correspondence and purchases.

If an American-style of royalty is more up your alley, why not gaze at the lovely Jackie Kennedy holding court while touring the under-construction Whitney Museum of American Art. Or maybe you prefer fashion icon Gloria Vanderbilt, a true American royal.

Of course, even royals have bad days. Just ask the pouty Duchess of Cambridge!

Who is your favorite royal? Let us know!

Jayna Hanson is a processing archivist at the Archives of American Art and an aspiring royal.



Great post! I had no idea the Archives of American Art had so much on international royals. My favorite royal was always Prince William. He and Kate make such a cute couple. Thanks for sharing this!

Cheers to the happy couple! I'll be toasting as well!

The photo of Jackie Kennedy is great. She is not as interesting as the group of men staring down upon her.

I love Princess Diana and I just hope that Prince William's marriage with Kate lasts for a lifetime. That'll make her mom really happy and proud.

My favorite royalty of all times is definitely Napoleon and Josephine. Although, not royalty by blood, theirs is a facilitating story. I always admired self-made kings and emperors, or other great leaders, who came from nowhere and conquered the world. Napoleon gave Josephine a medallion for their wedding on which he inscribed the words "To Destiny" - and what a destiny they both had!

Living in Britain its a big thing this wedding. We all get a day off to celebrate and its a national holiday, Now everyone is trying to get married on the same day to make the event even more special. I wish them all the happiness for the future

Really interesting post, I also live in Britain and it seems there is a split, those who are excited and planning street parties or those who are completely indifferent to all the fuss!!!
I am looking forward to watching it I remember Charles and Diana's wedding when I was my daughters age so it will be interesting to see how interested she is!!! Iam married to an Irish man who couldn't care less!!

It is lovely for the couple and we will watch the ceremony wish them all the best!

I remember when I was a kid, the street parties for Charles and Di... even up in Scotland! It was a magical time when everyone really got caught up in the fairytale. I think we're all a bit more realistic now, but it's no less special.

Oh royalty, I don't know what's up with people, but it seems they always want somebody to dominate them. And that's the fact, otherwise kings and queens would be long forgotten.

<strong>Elizabeth Awad</strong>

Major thanks for the blog post.Much thanks again. Keep writing.