Intense search leads to Bavaria
Mir Castle Complex Museum features unique collection once owned by Radziwills
By Yelena Stasova
Portraits and decorative art treasures once belonging to the 19th century owners of Mir Castle have been discovered after much intensive research. The pieces were among those owned by Princess Stephanie Radziwill, daughter of Prince Dominik: the last direct descendant of the Nesvizh branch of the family in the male line. The items passed to Stephanie’s son, Piotr Wittgenstein, and then to his sister, Princess Marie Hohenlohe-Schillingsfьrst — who married the German Chancellor.
Candidate of historical sciences Olga Popko, the Director of the museum at Mir Castle, travelled to Bavaria, with help from the Ministry of Culture, in November, to visit Schillingsfьrst Palace. There, Prince Konstantin Hohenlohe-Schillingsfьrst agreed to show his collection and about 30 portraits of Radziwill Princes were discovered, rather than the original six expected.
Not all are being exhibited at this private museum but the collection does feature many previously unknown portraits: of Prince Karol Stanislaw Radziwill Panie Kochanku; of Prince Dominik; and of his mother, Princess Sophia. The rarest find has been several portraits of Princess Stephanie, whose appearance was previously a mystery. Work is now underway to decide where each portrait originally hung, since many palaces and castles were owned by the Radziwills.
Mir Castle’s management is now negotiating with Prince Hohenlohe-Schillingsfьrst regarding an official visit; according to historians, the collection is hugely significant, revealing aspects of history previously ambiguous. The new portraits will be carefully studied and are to form the basis of an enriched exhibition in the Radziwill Princes Hall and in the Wittgenstein Princes Hall of Mir Castle.