Ghosts of distant past: looking for relatives in 19th century Poland (Part I)

It’s almost midnight, and I’m supposed to be in bed, but my head is buzzing like a group of ravenous bumblebees because I found a picture of a graveyard monument. Yes, when you spend months holed up in a tiny room on the outskirts of Paris things could get even stranger. There, before my eyes, covered in green ivy, lay the tombstone of one 70-something Dimitry Bartniczuk, year of death 1912. My great-great-great-somebody from my mother’s side of the family. His grave was just at on the other side of the screen, and quite frankly, I was ecstatic about it.

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Dimitrii Bartniczuk, lived 78 years, died on January 28, 1912

Researching my Polish relatives became a personal question for two reasons. One – the fact that our family history – and the way people moved around countries – is not exactly the most common story you may hear. Blame it on the journalistic instincts, or the pure and enduring love of history, but the matter of people long dead yet not forgotten was too fascinating to let go. And the other…  The other reason shall remain not for print.

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Review: Hare with Amber Eyes

From Japan to Paris, through Vienna and back to Japan. In his memoir entitled The Hare with Amber Eyes Edmund de WaalScreenshot 2015-02-15 21.53.45 recounts the fascinating family saga that surrounded 264 netsuke, traditional Japanese figurines that were given to his great grandfather on his wedding day…

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The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra

They were the Princess Dianas of their day—perhaps the most photographed and talked about young royals of the early twentieth century. The four captivating Russian Grand Duchesses—Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia Romanov—were much admired for their happy dispositions, their looks, the clothes they wore and their privileged lifestyle.

The Romanov Sisters paints a tragic, yet undoubtedly fascinating picture of the last years of the Russian Empire through the eyes of the four Grand Duchesses and their entourage. Helen Rappaport’s book gives a hauntingly vivid new look at one of the most famous set of siblings in modern history. Masterfully written and meticulously researched, Helen Rapport’s narrative places Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia at the center stage of one of the most dramatic periods of modern history. (more…)

Anna Anderson: Resurrecting Anastasia

1920, Berlin. A young woman jumps into a canal, only to be saved by a passing police-man. Her body bears the marks of violence. After a brief stint at a local asylum and months and months of refusals to reveal her true identity,  the troubled young woman begins to claim she is, in fact, the lost Russian Princess Anastasia Romanov. So begins the story of Anna Anderson, the woman that baffled investigators for well over 50 years.

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Masterpieces, digitalized

New York’s Museum of Modern Art has recently joined the ranks of the world’s most famous cultural institutions that made their collections available to the grand public… on the web. Here are the top 3 museums that allow you to download some of the world’s finest art – free of charge and in high resolution, as long as you don’t put the masterpieces to commercial use.

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1950s fashion at Pallais Galliera

1947. Christian Dior transforms the feminine silhouette forever, making the women forget the austerity of the post war years and embrace the ‘new look’ that inspired generations of fashion designers to come.

The New Look was “direct, unblushing plan to make women extravagantly, romantically, eyelash-battingly female.” Vogue, 1957

 Yet, Christian Dior was not the only couturier who showcased the marvels of tailoring during the golden age of haute couture, that gave the world such names as Balenciaga, Yves Saint Laurent, Hubert de Givenchy, Pierre Balmain and many others. Their names have truly become synonymous with elegance and luxury, their business drove the French economy of the time. The exposition gathers 100 dresses and accessories, retracing the history of the feminine silhouette from 1947 to 1957.

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Bolin & the Tsars: the other Court Jeweler

      Believe it, or not, the jewelry making masterpieces of the Russian court were not limited to the notoriously-beautiful creations of Peter Fabergé and the mythical Imperial Easter eggs some of which still make treasure-hunters dream. The House of Bolin has an extraordinary jewelry-making story to tell. Still owned by the founding family, Bolin has served as Court Jeweler to five Russian Tsars and three kings of Sweden.

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