Silver Age last muse Salomea Andronikova
In 1982, the London newspaper “Times”, Russian and foreign newspapers reported that May 8 in London aged 94, died Russian princess Salomea Andronikova, “the last of the most brilliant women, who happened to be contemporaries of heyday of the Silver Age of Russian poetry” … Salomea Ivanovna Andronikova was one of the most famous beauties of the era. She was famous for her intelligence, charm and wit. Among her friends were the famous Russian poets and artists of the time. In memory of contemporaries she remained The Last Muse of the twentieth century. Anna Akhmatova called her “Beauty of the Thirteenth Year”, inspired by her Osip Mandelstam immortalized her in the poem “Solominka” Despite the war, revolution, emigration, against fear of the future, she was true to her ideals, had the ability to listen, and most importantly, kept the gift of being a woman – always, everywhere, in all circumstances.
The daughter of the Georgian Prince Ivane Andronikashvili (1863–1944), Russian mother Lidiya Pleshcheyeva-Muratova (1861–1953), and great-niece of the poet A. Pleshcheev, Salomea Andronikova was born in October 1888 in Tiflis, Russian Empire. No wonder Georgia has traditionally been considered a country of beautiful women and music. “There is nothing lovelier than local women – wrote in 1768 the Abbot Joseph Delaporte. – This land can be called the abode of beauty …”
When Salome was eighteen years old, she and her cousin Tinatin (later wife of composer and pianist Sergei Taneyev) went to St. Petersburg and soon became the center of social life of the capital, which required considerable expenditure on clothes and jewelry.
Salomea started her literary salon, where gathered talented poets, artists, musicians, and her fans. Funds for social life were soon found – Salomea married a wealthy tea merchant Pavel Andreev, a widower twice older than her. But family life was not happy: the husband loved sprees, and most importantly – did chase the women, even the sisters of his wife. Fascinated by one, the next day he could say love words to another. In the end, Salomea with the help of her friend, lawyer Luarsab Andronikov parted with Andreev. Even after the divorce Salomeф gave birth to daughter Irina, later Baroness Nolde, a participant of the French Resistance, Communist. The father never once did see his daughter.
Salomea was charming. Gentle light of almond eyes framed by long black lashes, proud head on a long neck, a surprisingly slim figure. “Always more smartly dressed than all, more pink and taller than all” – wrote about her Akhmatova and gave her poem collection “Rosary” with the caption “In the hope of friendship” and a collection of “White Flock” with words of love and sympathies, referred to her. By thirty years old the beauty of Salomea peaked. Her portraits painted famous artists Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin, Zinaida Serebryakova, Konstantin Somov, Alexander Yakovlev, Boris Grigoriev, Sergei Chekhonin, Vasily Shukhayev. The nature of Salome matched her beauty, with brightness and eccentricity.
“Your firm self-confidence attracts me, your authentic, sincere, not artificial attentiveness to people. Your childishness perfectly matches you. You are not too convinced follower of femininity and laziness to be inactive and calm “, “Your adventurous nature … attracts me. You, of course, an adventurer, and therefore are related to me,” – wrote to Salomea her faithful admirer and friend, the poet Ilya Zdanevich. Salome had been friends with Zdaneviches all life. Mandelstam was in love with her, except mentioned “straws”, which seemed to her “divine music”, dedicated to her poem “Madrigal” and “I lost the delicate cameo.”
In summer of 1917 Salomea Andronikova together with her daughter and her friend, the poet Sergei Rafalovich, went to the Crimea, not yet knowing that it had been a farewell to St. Petersburg and to her image of sparkling Muse, who became a legend of the Silver Age … Coming hard times did not promise anything good for a fragile beauty. Time of everyday difficulties with a frightening unknown word – emigration has come. Andronikova emigrated. First to Baku, then to her native Tbilisi, then to Paris.
Once Salomea admitted that she “made a nonsense, having left home at a difficult time.” However, this smart and proud woman, Georgian princess, until her last days was thinking about Russia and Georgia. In the 40s she published a cookbook, where among others gave two recipes of traditional Georgian dishes. This aristocrat herself perfectly cooked. Somehow she joked: “All my life I thought I am a muse, but it turned out – the cook.”
To France, she went lightly, as a walk in an entertaining voyage, with another fan – Zinovy Peshkov, adopted son of Maxim Gorky and half-brother of Yakov Sverdlov, the man of amazing human biography. Zinovy Peshkov in uniform of Major of French army in 1926. Future general of the French army, the cavalier of fifty government awards. Spoke seven foreign languages, including Arabic, Chinese and Japanese. Zinovy Peshkov was the adopted son of the proletarian writer Maxim Gorky, and in fact came from a family of Sverdlov. It was his brother Yakov Sverdlov will head then, after the October Revolution, the Central Executive Committee and will be together with Lenin one of the main figures of national history.
Peshkov, according to Andronikova, persuaded her to “go for a ride with him to Paris, as they say, to buy a hat.” “Time was not clear, even furious – later recalled Salome. – I could nothing explain what’s going on; like any ordinary aristocrat, did not want anything to think deeply.” Andronikova left without a passport, without anything, as she was, with a small suitcase. She met with Zinovy Peshkov in 1920 in Baku, in the house of her closest friend. At that time, Zinovy Peshkov served for the French representatives at the Menshevik government of Georgia. He always remained in France, rose to the rank of brigadier general, became the colleague of de Gaulle. Salome and Zinoviev soon parted, but their friendship lasted for many years.
In 1925 Andronikova married her fan – a lawyer Alexander Halpern, who too, was in his long exile, since the days of St. Petersburg. Spouse lived in England, and Salomea visited him arriving from Paris, where she worked in the fashion magazine of Lucien Vogel. Here in Paris, she met with Marina Tsvetaeva. “We had a real intellectual friendship – later recalled Andronikova. She told me: “Salomea, we are not shiny, we are brilliant! And indeed it was a brilliant companion. Andronikova was struck by the poverty in which Tsvetaeva lived. How could she support her – Lucien Vogel paid her a thousand francs, two hundred she gave to Marina, distributed tickets for her poetry parties. In addition, she organized a kind of charity committee of several wealthy Russians, who collected a certain amount each month for Tsvetaeva family up to departure of Tsvetaeva to the Soviet Russia. Preserved 120 letters of Salome to Marina, still unpublished.
Silver Age last muse Salomea Andronikova
In 1940, Salomea with her grandson moved to America, where her husband Halpern worked at the British Embassy. Her life she ended in England. Salomea Andronikova took away with her into exile loop of memories. Time, alas, was not kind to her. Salomea was almost deaf, blind (she was operated on both eyes) went bad. But in poems and letters, on canvases Silver Age last muse Salomea Andronikova is forever beautiful and mysterious. She perceived herself in old age the way she was in her youth, being cheerful, charming, without losing the amazing cheerfulness and sense of humor. At her 90 Salomea looked 70, and wanted to live to 100. “I would like to live forever” – said Salomea. She left a very simple will: “All that I have and that I own, I am leaving to my daughter. Clarifying in the will that my portrait by Serebryakova I bequeath to Georgia”.