Lost Romanov Icon Returned to Tsarskoye Selo

An icon belonging to Emperor Alexander III’s brother, Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich (1850-1908), was returned to Tsarskoye Selo on 25 March 2016.

Preserved in the Museum’s collection until World War II, the Icon of the Mother of God Quick to Hearken has been donated to the museum by Ms Gabriele Demming from Germany.

She and her sister, Ingeborg Schenk, inherited the icon after their father’s death in 2014. Their uncle Franz Feldhaus was a chaplain assigned to the military unit ‘I.D.58’. There are no details as to how the icon got into the man’s hands, but he was known to have used it at his unit’s field altar during services. He passed the icon onto his mother, Gabriele and Ingeborg’s grandmother, shortly before he died in Neukuhren (now Pionersky, Kaliningrad Oblast) in February 1945. The icon was later inherited by his brother, Gabriele and Ingeborg’s father.

The sisters tried to look for the icon’s original owner and sought help from Professor Wolfgang Eichwede of the University of Bremen, a well-known German historian who found this icon listed in the Summary Catalogue of the Cultural Valuables Stolen and Lost During World War II.

The icon comes from the historic collection of Tsarskoye Selo. It was registered in a pre-war inventory of the Museum and bears the inventory numbers but was not evacuated from the Catherine Palace in 1941.