Creative Director: Asiya Bella Sakhiullina
Photographer: Mary Lebedeva
MUA: Maria Kuraeva
Model: Anastasiya Gordeiko




The beautiful Anastasiya sighs in sorrow as she tightly holds onto her arm, no doubt in an attempt to reassure herself, as she hunches in the middle of what once was a homestead fit for royalty. This is where families of princes and princesses came and went, living out their magical lives, starting in the XVI century and onward. Now the walls of the Grebneva homestead stand bare in places, with peeling scratched up paint and boarded up windows elsewhere. Ruins are all around with just a glimpse of what may have been. The strong architecturally sound walls tell a story, with just a hint of a design element seen on the windowpanes.

Anastasiya’s face is symmetrical, flawless in its youth and carelessness not unlike the homestead’s architecture, when it was first erected. Out of the main Grebneva mansion, built in XVII, a large stable built in XIX, carriage courtyard, the main courtyard, the West and East wings stretched out to either side, and two churches, the only buildings that remain in tact from the XVII century are the two places of worship.

As she stares out of the long forgotten courtyard, her expression is reminiscent of late Nastasiya (Anastasiya), it seems they also share the same name. Ivan Trybetski’, who is the father of Nastasiya Kantemir, buys the homestead in 1720. Nastasiya, at the time is married to Dmitri’ Kantemir, who is already on his second marriage.

So many emotions must have flown through the walls of that courtyard, as even with a little bit of history we can start to get a sense of how life was back than. Maria Kantemir, the daughter of Dmitri’ Kantemir and his first wife later purchases Ylitkino homestead, right next to the Grebneva mansion. Certainly royalty, especially royal families did not live far from each other back than, but one has to wonder what was it like for the women to live right next to each other.

We can only imagine all the intrigues that went on…Fights? Angry, side-ways glances, snide comments, property battles, marriages, deaths, children, or illnesses? All of those things occurred, after the late Dmitri’ Kantemir passed away.

A woman by the window generally signifies a longing, missing something or someone. Did Nastasiya miss him, and their happiness? The history books tell us that she remained robust and active in her court dealings following his death, but one cannot always tell what is in a woman’s heart.

Maria Kantemir spent her youth tied in intense love intrigues and suffered terribly. The death of her father brought on so much pain that her illness intensified and she was unable to get better for a long time. While the higher courts decided on the fate of the mansion, which eventually, but only partially went to Nastasiya, Maria was bed-ridden. An attempt to spy on the dealings of Grebneva estate was foiled.


The Story Queen of Spades takes a turn…

After she gets better, she leaves the court life and continues to live out her days in a Moscow home, where she enjoys a quiet life consuming literature at her leisure. Throughout the 1730s she even hosts literature nights. She does not re-marry, because in part she knows that the men who ask for her hand are largely interested in the costly Grebneva estate.

Nastasiya does re-marry to her long time suitor Ludvik Gruno; they travel around Germany, where she visits Homburg, for the first and only time. She never does inherit Homburg, as her husband dies a year before his father. But her life continues to be a whirlwind of sorrow, her highest point of happiness is in 1741 when she becomes the first state lady in the history of Russian Royalty. Empress Elizabeth Petrovna gives her the title.

Despite being widowed twice Nastasiya continues to sparkle at high courts. She is known as one of the most beautiful women with a flawless reputation. Her travels bring her joy, as does her daughter. She seems to prefer the courts of Paris where she lives with her daughter, but the death of her father brings her back home to Russia.