Ivan Wiagis

Major Domo of an Imperial household

Formerly employed in the household of Grand duke Sergei Aleksandrovitj and Grand duchess Elisabeth Fjodorovna (Sister to Empress Alexandra), Wiagis was employed by Maria Feodorovna during her semi-captivity and stay in the Crimea 1917-1919 as a valet and later took upon himself the duties of a house butler. Here he is (center) between Life-Cossacks Poliakoff and Yaschik at the Hvidøre main entrance. From Yaschiks´private family album © Private collection

As Zinaida Mengden described him, he was extremely skilled and almost at once had the responsibility of running the households both at Harraks (Crimea) and at Hvidøre. In the semi-captivity and dangerous situation, Wiagis himself took care of procuring anything the household needed, an almost entirely impossible job. As the food-shortage in the Crimean Peninsula grew, and more and more staff fled the Imperial premises (even the chauffeur having left and taken the Imperial car with him!), Wiagis also took upon him to serve in the kitchen as cook. As Zinaida Mengden later told, he was a master in the art of cooking too.

The Danish newspaper Nationaltidende, described Wiagis in a sad little article, 1929, only a year after the Empress´death: The Empress´old major domo still guarded, from his home at the gardeners lodge, the home of his former employer. After her death, he was the only person from the old “staff” to remain on the premises. In his living room, pictures of the former Emperor Nicholas and his wife hung over a simple wooden wardrobe. In one of his drawers, he had kept a small parcel wrapped in silk with old photographs, papers and letters. On the wall, a paper-calendar still hang from a hook, with the calendar sheet from the 13th of October 1928, date of his Empress´death

Hvidøre was eventually sold by Grand duchesses Olga and Xenia to a well-known Danish eccentric, countess Musse Scheel, who in turn allowed Wiagis to stay on in the gardeners lodge for lifetime

Afternoon tea at Knudsminde, the elderly Wiagis with Emila Tenzo, Martha Ozer and Xenia Moschaeva © Ballerup Museum
Wiagis in his uniform at the doorsteps at Hvidøre, Yaschik sitting before him, both guarding their Empress´grandchildren Gurij and Tikhon Kulikovsky. © From Yaschiks´private album.