This posthumous portrait of expatriate Russian princess Zanaide Wolkonsky was presented to the Government collection by Sir A. Campbell.
Wolkonsky was the wife of an aide-de-camp of Tsar Alexander I. In 1830 her father gave her an area of land in the San Giovanni area of Rome, which included a stretch of Roman aqueduct, dating from the mid-1st century AD. The Princess built a small house within three of the bays of the aqueduct and created a garden, although she also rented accommodation in the centre of Rome. Her descendants built a larger villa, Villa Wolkonsky, on the site in 1890, having sold parts of the garden. In 1922 this villa became the Residence of the German Ambassador and in the 1930s both the villa and the aqueduct house were considerably extended. After the British Embassy, in Porta Pia, Rome, was severely damaged in a terrorist attack, in 1946, the Italian Government made Villa Wolkonsky available for use as a temporary Embassy and Ambassador’s Residence while a more permanent solution was sought. The Government Art Collection also includes a 19th-century view of the grounds, perhaps made during the Princess’s residency (see GAC 2557).
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