(part from the book "The Destination of Beauty")
She possessed an astounding presence and enchanted all with her captivating beauty and was a constant source of inspiration.
Mary was born in Georgia in 1890, but generally family lived in St. Petersburg, where the beauty of Mary was legendary. Her father was a general and Member of Russia’s State Duma.
She was maid of honor of last Russian Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna. But after Revolution of 1917 returned to Georgia. At that time Tiflis, the capital of country, was the last harbor of creative bohemia after the Russian Empire was over-thrown. Tiflis was compared to Paris for a reason.
Soon after her arrival she married George Eristavi, aide-de-camp of Tsar Nicholas The Second.
Famous Russian painter Savely Sorin had painted her portrait. Later on, when he was in Paris, he often asked his models: “Why are you behaving like that? Are you imitating Mary Sharvashidze? You have to know that she is unique!”
Sorin wanted to donate this portrait to Georgia. But after his death the widow of the painter kept it hung in her house in Monte Carlo. After her death, the painting became the property of the Princess of Monaco, Grace Kelly, according to the will.
In 1921, when Red Army annexed Georgia, Mary left the country with her husband, relatives and friends to Constantinople before settling in Paris. Surrounded by admires here too, she captivated Coco Chanel with her beauty. Although it was against her principles, she agreed to be Coco’s model, as Mary had to make a living somehow.
Her husband died in 1947 and Mary never married again. Although she did not lack admires and marriage candidates…
Mary was habitually late to everything, but nobody ever reprimanded her. Once, when she was the Empress’ maid of honor, she was late for requiem of a Royal Family member. Nicholas The Second was already in the hall, and it was absolutely impossible to enter the hall after him, according to protocol. All the same, Mary came, expecting the Tsar’s wrath. But all Nicholas could say, was “It’s a sin to be so beautiful!”
Mary missed Georgia very much and it was her dream to come there. But she never came back because did not want to travel through Russia.
“Why isn’t it possible to come to Tbilisi straight from Paris and not across Communist Russia? As long as there are Communist there, I will not come”, she said.
Mary Sharvashidze died in 1986 at the age of 96. Until her very last moments, Mary had maintained both her clarity and splendid beauty. When asked how she managed to remain so beautiful Mary answered “Since 1921 I have never smiled”…