Andrew was born on January 21, 1923, in London.
Prince Andrew Romanoff might have become Russia’s tsar, had fate, in the form of the Bolshevik Revolution, not intervened. Andrew is the grandnephew of Russia’s last tsar, Nicholas II, who was murdered along with his family in 1918. Andrew grew up not in Russia but in England, where his family found refuge from the murderous schemes of the Bolsheviks.
As the first cousin of Tsar Nicholas, the English King George V wanted to aid his family. He sent a ship called the H.M.S. Marlborough to rescue Nicholas II’s sister, the Grand Duchess Xenia, who was Andrew’s grandmother. The king invited Xenia and her family to live in a 23-room “cottage” on the grounds of Windsor Castle.
Andrew spent most of his childhood inside the castle gates. The Windsor Grounds made for a fantastic playground, with vast lawns, curving paths along the River Thames, fishponds, greenhouses full of exotic plants, and polo fields.
At home, Andrew always spoke Russian, and was expected to behave, well, like a prince. His mother made him practice walking with a stick under his arms so that he would stand up straight, like royalty. Andrew’s grandmother never stopped believing that someday the Romanoffs would return to Russia and rule the country once more, as they had since 1613.
Instead, Andrew enlisted with the British Navy and served in World War II. After the war ended, Andrew worked as a farmer outside London in Kent before moving to the United States to join his uncle and aunt in California. In Palo Alto, California, he successfully tried his hand at many different ventures: the import-export business, acting as a timekeeper for a shipping company, carpentry, and art.
Today, Andrew lives outside of San Francisco in Invereness with his wife, artist Inez Storer. On his preferred medium of Shrinky Dinks (plastic sheets that shrink by two-thirds when cooked in an oven), Andrew draws and paints, shrinks the inimitable scenes, then mounts them on painted panels. Andrew’s unique, utterly original artwork is firmly rooted in the traditions of Folk Art. There is a refreshingly earnest humor in the choice of material and in the witty execution of Andrew’s deceptively simple renderings. His work typically depicts personal memories, impression of American news, culture, and scenes of domestic life. Andrew’s modern version of Russian miniatures chronicle a most unusual, almost magical, childhood.
Andrew has exhibited both in the United States as well as in Europe, most specifically in St. Petersburg and Siberia. His paintings are small, witty icons influenced by his impressions both of his Russian heritage and items he finds in the newspapers and on the internet.
Painted on clear plastic know as Shrinky Dinks® and often accompanied by written narratives, these images range widely in subject matter. Some are of Andrew’s early years growing up at Windsor Castle, where he lived with his family including his Grandmother, the Grand Duchess Xenia, who was the sister of Czar Nicholas.
In 2010, National Geographic documented Andrew’s DNA procedure for a film about the discovery of the last two of the Czar’s children, his only son, Alexei and probably Anastasia. Andrew participated in an American Film for HBO called The End of a Legend about the findings of the Romanoff bones and subsequent DNA investigation.
Andrew had an exhibit at Gallery 16 in San Francisco, in conjunction with the publication of his book, The Boy Who Would Be Tsar, and an exhibit at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Artist’s Gallery in 2007.
Andrew’s work was included in the exhibit, ‘LIFE, LIBERTY AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS’ at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. It was an exhibit of 80 artists from all over the world and ran through September 2010. He has had solo exhibits at Quercus Studios in Oakland, Gallery 1044 in San Francisco, Smith Andersen Editions in Palo Alto, California, and in 2011 showed at the Turner Caroll Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Andrew was born in London, served in the British Navy and came to the United States in the late 40’s and now lives in Inverness with his wife, the painter, Inez Storer. In 2007 Andrew was on NBC’s The Today Show talking about his life in Inverness which included some film clips about his Russian background.
Andrew was given a lifetime supply of Shrinky Dink® plastic sheets from their headquarters in North Lake, Wisconsin. If one visits Andrew’s home in the old Inverness Hotel, it isn’t long before you are sitting at the kitchen table making shrink art, young and old alike!