A fine selection of three original photographs, all taken in England, of the Imperial Russian General Constantine Nikolaevich Dessino, a member of the Russian military delegation to England in 1917, he had fought in the Russo-Turkish War 1877-1878, the China Campaign 1900-1901, the Russo-Japanese War 1904-1905 and the First World War, being a recipient of a whole number of decorations, amongst them the Order of Saint George.
Photograph of an Imperial Russian Army Lieutenant General in parade dress uniform, wearing his gold braid crosshatch epaulettes with three stars, a lanyard, and the insignia of the Order of Saint Vladimir 3rd Class neck badge, and the Order of Saint George 4th Class breast badge, along with the Jetton for a graduate of the First Cadet Corps at Saint Petersburg. This Jetton was authorised on 12th June 1907, and the photograph dates from circa 1917 when he arrived as part of the Russian Military Delegation. This taken by the English photographic studio of Elliott & Fry of Baker Street, London. Attached to its original protective folder with top wrapper.
Elliott & Fry was a Victorian photographers studio founded in 1863 by Joseph John Elliott and Clarence Edmund Fry. For a century the firm's core business was taking and publishing photographs of the Victorian public and social, artistic, scientific and political luminaries.
Photograph of the same Imperial Russian officer, this taken around the very end of the Great War, quite possibly after the fall of Tsarist rule. The officer now appears to hold the rank of full General or General of the Branch, and he wears a whole plethora of awards. Namely a mounted group of nine awards fronted by the Order of Saint George 4th Class and then the Order of Saint Vladimir 4th Class without Swords, followed by various campaign, Jubilee and Anniversary medals. At his neck is the Order of Saint Stanislaus 2nd Class with Swords, the breast star for this being awarded on his left breast pocket above the breast star of the British Knight Commander of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George, the neck badge for this is also clearly visible. Another visible neck badge is that of the Order of Saint Vladimir 3rd Class, and the final neck badge is that of the Dutch Order of Orange-Nassau with Swords. In addition on his right breast pocket is the Breast Star of the Order of Saint Anne with Swords 1st Class and the sash for this is clearly visible running across his chest. This taken by the English photographic studio of Swaine of New Bond Street, London and of Southsea.
The photographer Frank Arthur Swaine, a Royal Warrant holders to various royal families, was a respected early 20th Century studio photographer with premises at New Bond Street in London and also in Southsea. He went on to exhibit at the 1920’s British Industries Fair, and a number of his photographs are now held in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery in London.
A photograph of the same man, this taken circa 1920’s in a civil dress suit, the signature of the photographer just about legible with careful inspection.
General Constantine Nikolaevich Dessino. His selection of awards were sold through the Orders and Medals Research Society of America in 1997, and some other photographs and documentation were sold in the Dix Noonan and Webb Auction for April 2006. The description in DNW quotes a newspaper cutting: ‘Dessino fought in the Russo-Japanese War and in the Great War, latterly in Galicia, winning the Cross of St. George. It was from Galicia that he sent such frequent complaints of the shortage of munitions that the Czar sent for him, a meeting that led to Dessino being appointed to the command of munitions supply in that theatre of war. In 1917 he arrived in the U.K. as a member of a Russian military delegation, ‘was banqueted, taken on inspections, granted a long audience with King George V, and taken to the battlefield of France’. Then came the Russian revolution and ‘he lost everything ... with his family, including a six month-old grandson, he escaped to England ... Now [1938, in exile in London] eighty-one years old, still handsome but too weak to walk more than a few yards, he sits all day smoking cigarette after cigarette in a holder, and reading military and diplomatic books in Russian, French and English. A nurse looks after him constantly, taking him out in a wheel chair once a day to look at the shops. Shop window gazing is his greatest pleasure’. The General died in March 1940.’
His mounted group of awards sold via OMSA in 1997 confirms his campaign medals and other awards in the mounted group in addition to the Order of Saint George 4th Class and the Order of Saint Vladimir 4th Class, were the following: Medal for the Russo-Turkish War 1877-1878; Silver Medal of Alexander III; China Campaign 1900-1901; Russo-Japanese War 1904-1905; Medal for the 200th Anniversary of the Victory of Poltava; Medal for the 100th Anniversary of the War of 1812; and the Medal for the 300th Anniversary of the House of Romanov 1913.