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Sergey Rostislavovich Ernst
(1894 - 1980) Russia - France

Sergei Ernst

Art historian and critic

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Dimitri BouchéneSergey Rostislavovich Ernst was an art historian and critic associated with members of "Mir iskusstva" ("World of Art"), who knew and collaborated with many outstanding artists.

He was the first to write monographs on the leading artists of the Russian "Silver Age": Benua, Rerikh and Serebriakova (who painted his portrait ant that of his lover Dimitri).

He met his life-long lover and partner Dimitri Bouchène (portrait at the right) when they were both students in St. Petersburg.

In 1925 his lover Dimitri obtained permission for a three-month holiday in Paris, travelling together via Tallinn, Estonia, and he went there with Sergei.

They never returned to the Soviet Union.


Once Sergei, at a Parisian flea market, bought a Delacroix at a ridiculously low price. Reselling the painting allowed the couple to buy a home. Dimitri worked for the Paris Opéra and La Scala as stage designer.

Sergei ErnstDuring the Nazi occupation both Sergei and Dimitri took part in the French Resistance.

A "notice" on a book by Auguste Ricard De Montferrand (1820) from Ernst's library, carries a pencil inscription on the front fly leaf, about the 36 granite columns designed for the front of St. Isaac Cathedral in Saint Petersburg, published at an early stage of cathedral construction, 1818-1858.

A bit of French history from the 17th-18th century persecution of French Hugenots by Louis XIV and his successors: in 1685, Dimitri Bouchéne's great-grandfather, Nikolai, fleed to Catherine the Great's Russia.

Over the generations, the family provided Russia with six army generals.grave

So Russian armies of the Napoleonic Wars had "French" generals on both sides!

The lovers lived together all their lives and are buried in one grave in Montparnasse: Division 13; Row 2, south-west part; Grave 19.

The inscription reads "What a joy / You have arrived" -- referring to the thirteen years between Sergei's death in 1980 and Dimitri's in 1993.

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The three portraits were painted by Zinaida Serebryakova in 1921.

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