Russian Miniature 19C Painting on Ivory of Russian Nobility. The fine 19th century painting of an aristocratic lady is unsigned and has a small chip on the left edge. The painting is from the estate of Countess Mara (1915 - 2010), a descendant of Nikola Sergeievitch Gagarin a relative of the Romanov family. Measures 2.5 inches high, and is framed in a rectangular black frame that measures 4.5 inches high. A photograph of a painting showing Tchernycheff Marie Besobrasoff's family ancestry is included with the miniature Russian portrait.
Countess Mara, a Russian born actress who went by the stage name Meery Illa, appeared in several French 1930’s film including the 1934 film ZouZou starring Josephine Baker, Lac aux Dames, and 1928 film Princess Olala with Marlene Dietrich. She emigrated from Russia to Paris as a child. In addition to acting, she was a model for Chanel, and worked in the Soviet secret services as a spy during WWII against the Nazis. In 1939 she married actor Henri Garat.
Countess Mara was the second child of Count Alexander Alexandrovich Tchernycheff-Bezobrazoff and Mary Nikolaevna born Sherbatoff, Mara was born in Moscow May 16, 1915. Alexander Fedorovich Bezobrazoff, chamberlain of the tsar who married Sophie Hypolitovna, the last of the line Tchernycheff, was allowed to take the title of Count Tchernycheff in 1908. Her Russian noble family name was TCHERNYCHEFF – Marie BESOBRASOFF a descendant of Count Alexander Alexandrovich Tchernycheff-Bezobrazoff Sherbatoff.