Monday, October 1, 2012

One Million Roses

SOLD Marguerite de Sevre
The story is told this way:

Once, there was a poor and humble Georgian named Niko Pirosmani. He was a house painter, a painter of signs, and of simple pictures of people and animals that had in them a spark of magic to touch the hearts of his fellow Georgians.

Niko Pirosmani, painter, Tbilisi, Georgia, 1916. Portrait by Eduard Klar.
Eduard Klar [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
One day a famous French actress on tour stopped for a bit in Tblisi, the town where Niko lived, and Niko fell in love. It was said that of all things this actress loved flowers, especially red roses, so Niko, being only a simple man, and feeling a desperate kind of passion, took all the money he had in this world, he sold all of his canvases, his brushes, everything he owned he sold, and with this money he bought red roses; thousands, perhaps a million of them, and he filled the public square beneath her hotel window with these brilliant flowers. A few old grandmothers say that they can still remember how, throughout Tblisi, on that day, the air was heavy with the perfume of those roses.

Die Schauspielerin Margarita "The actress Margarita," 1909
Niko Pirosmanashvili (1862–1918) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
In the morning when the actress, whose name was Marguerite de Sevre, awakened, she looked out her window to find the morning sun shining down upon the thousands, perhaps a million, scarlet roses in the square below. Watching from a discreet distance, Niko saw her surprised smile, and wept for joy. Marguerite saw the flowers, but she did not see Niko.

Well, Marguerite de Sevre returned to Paris, back to the bright gaiety of her life there. But Niko, poor Niko, financially ruined by this one impulsive act, lived out the rest of his life alone and slowly died of liver failure and malnutrition.

Ah well, perhaps it is only a story.



The story became a folktale in the Soviet Union, and a popular song, "One Million Roses," was based upon it. This song remains a favorite with audiences today throughout Russia and other nations that were once part of the USSR.


We were fortunate enough to locate another De Sevre, as well as an image of Suzanne Derval posing in the same chair. These images will be available for purchase in our shop on Etsy in the very near future.

Suzanne Derval
Marguerite de Sevre