L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Count Valerian Aleksandrovich Zubov, by Jean-Louis Voille, 1791

He is wearing the Order of Saint George, Fourth Class; he received the Second Class St.George in 1796 for his capture of Derbent.

Count Valerian Aleksandrovich Zubov (1771–21 June 1804), Russian general who led the Persian Expedition of 1796. He was the brother of Platon Zubov, who was Catherine II's last favorite and the most powerful man in the empire at the time; Count Valerian, himself, was called "the handsomest man in Russia", and Catherine is reputed to have flirted with him behind his brother's back. Rising quickly in rank in the military at an astonishingly young age - no doubt at least in part due to the influence of his brother - he helped quell the Kościuszko Uprising in Poland. Not long before Catherine's death in 1796, the twenty-four year old Count Valerian led the ambitious Persian Expedition, which had been planned by him and his brother Platon. But the expedition was not successful; he managed little beyond capturing Derbent and was recalled to Russia in disgrace. His disgrace continued when Catherine's son, Paul, ascended the throne. Naturally, the new emperor had little use for either of the Zubov brothers, stripping them of their titles and confiscating their estates. (Count Valerian's estates were returned to him in 1800.) He was part of the conspiracy against the emperor, but didn't long outlive him, dying at the tender age of thirty-three.


Jean-Louis Voille (4 May 1744, Paris -1806), French painter. Student of Francois-Hubert Drouais, from the early 1770s he was resident in Russia where, circa 1780, he became court painter to the future Emperor Paul I. He returned to France in 1795 but, on the rise of Napoléon, he returned to Russia. Little is known of his last years.

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