Natalia Brassova

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Natalia Brasova, Countess Brasova (Russian: Княгиня Наталья Брасова; born Natalia Sergeyevna Sheremetyevskaya Russian: Наталья Сергеевна Шереметевская; 27 June 1880 – 26 January 1952) was a Russian noblewoman who married, as her third husband, Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich of Russia.


Early life

Natalia, or Natasha to her friends,[3] was the youngest of three daughters of a Moscow lawyer, Sergei Alexandrovich Sheremetevsky. She was born at a rented summer dacha at Perovo, on the outskirts of Moscow. Sheremetevsky employed 11 other lawyers, and was a member of the minor nobility, but had no title and was essentially a professional middle-class man.[4] He was a sometime deputy in the Moscow City Duma, and a trustee of the Arbat City School. In the first year of her life, Natalia and her family lived in a rented apartment near the Moscow Kremlin on Ilinka. Their landlord, wealthy industrialist Aleksey Khludov, was also Natalia's godfather. From 1881 to 1893, the family lived at 7 Serebriany Lane, a single-storied wooden house owned by Sheremetevsky. From 1893, the family lived in a succession of rented apartments until Natalia left home on her marriage. She was educated at a private school, and by a French governess employed by her father.[5]

First marriage

In 1902, she married Sergei Mamontov (1 October 1877, Moscow – 30 December 1939, Tallinn),[6] a nephew of Savva Mamontov. Sergei was a rehearsal accompanist for Savva Mamontov's Opera Company, which was renamed Association of Russian Opera after Savva's bankruptcy in 1899, and later at the Bolshoi Theatre. Through her first husband's connections, Natalia became friendly with noted musicians such as Sergei Rachmaninoff and Feodor Chaliapin.[7] The couple moved into 13 Mansurovsky Lane, a new apartment buuilding near the fashionable Prechistenka street, and had a daughter, Natalia or "Tata" to the family, on 2 June 1903. Sergei had a stammer and was of a retiring disposition, but Natalia was keen to socialise. Finding him socially dull, she began to go out unaccompanied by her husband.[8] Russian divorce law followed the teachings of the Orthodox Church, and in practice divorce was only possible in cases of adultery where the husband was the guilty party.[9] In 1905, Sergei agreed to a divorce and to act in the proceedings as if he was the unfaithful partner. Now free from her first husband, Natalia married her lover, cavalry officer Vladimir Vladimirovich Wulfert (Russian: Вульферт).[10]

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