In June of 1917, as the Russian Revolution escalated, Grand Duke George was granted permission to go to Finland, hoping eventually to reach Sweden or Norway. He remained there until April of 1918, when he was arrested, brought back to Petrograd and then exiled to Vologda. In July, he was once again arrested and returned to Petrograd, where he was imprisoned along with his brother Grand Duke Nicholas Mikhailovich (1859-1919) and their cousin Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich (1860-1919). In a letter to Grand Duchess Marie, he wrote: “If it were not for you three who are everything to me in life, it would, I believe, be indifferent to me if I were shot” (Grand Duchess George, A Romanov Diary: The Autobiography of H.I. & R.H. Grand Duchess George, G.N. Tantzos and M.A. Eilers, ed., New York, 1988, p. 232). While still imprisoned, Grand Duke George sent the present lot, a sketch of his prison cell, to his youngest daughter Xenia in London.
In January 1919, the three grand dukes were executed by a Bolshevik firing squad. The grand duchess learned of her husband’s death in the newspaper on February 4, 1919, news which was confirmed the following day by a wire from Finland. “It is useless,” she recalled, “to try to describe the agony I went through having to tell this news to my poor girls…” (Grand Duchess George, op cit., p. 239).