This pretty lady, wearing a tiara and holding flowers, is a small (6 ½ by 9-inch) watercolor that I bought in a box-lot of old books at an auction last week. At first I thought it was a print, but when I took it home and examined it closely I realized it's a skillful drawing done with watercolor paints and perhaps some ink.
Below I’ve posted a scan of a similar painting of an Eastern-style man that was in the same lot, I assume by the same artist.
There is no signature anywhere. On the back of the “bride” painting there are, in pencil, matting and framing instructions and the name “Mr. Patterson”.
Because she is wearing a tiara, and because her rings are prominently displayed, I’m calling this “a Royal Bride”. At first I thought she might be one of Queen Victoria’s daughters. I spent some time checking them out, but came up with nothing. I thought that the hairstyle was perhaps earlier—maybe around the 1850’s (You can see examples of those severely smooth hairstyles in my blog post about “Spooky Twins” which shows a number of my daguerreotypes and ambrotypes featuring women from that period.)
After googling “royalty” and “tiaras”, I began to think that she resembled Maria Feodorovna (born Princess Dagmar--1847-1928), a Danish princess who was the mother of the assassinated Czar Nicholas of Russia. She has a fascinating story—first she was engaged to marry the Russian heir apparent Tsarevich Nicholas of Russia but he died of meningitis in 1865, right before the wedding, and she went back to Denmark brokenhearted. His brother, who would become Alexander III of Russia, came to visit and console her, and they were married in Russia in 1866.
Maria Feodorovna had a very tragic life, including the assassination of her son and grandchildren. She refused until the end of her life to believe that the Czar was really dead. She has been portrayed in a number of films and plays about Nicholas and Alexandra and the fate of their daughter Anastasia.
Unfortunately for my romantic imaginings, I slowly realized that the painting was not Maria Feodorovna, because in every photograph of her, she has very wavy hair which could not resemble that of the tiara princess.
I may have to accept that the lady in my painting is an idealized fantasy—not a real person. (I think that is true of the turban-wearing young man in the painting below.)
But I know from experience that there are many people out there who are incredibly knowledgeable about vintage European royalty, so I’m asking: if you recognize this beauty, let me know who she is. If you find it difficult to leave a comment below (and many do!) then e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.