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

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Prince Alexander Konstantinovich Gorchakov, by Nikolai Bogdanov-Belsky, 1904.

I've been unable to find anything about this handsome Prince Gorchakov except the dates of his birth and death - 1875 and 1916 - and that in 1904 - the year this portrait was painted - he married Daria Mikhailovna Bibikova (1883-1962), a lady-in-waiting to Empress Alexandra Feodorovna. The year of his death and his relative youth - he would have been only forty-one - leads one to wonder if he may have been a casualty of World War I.


Nikolai Petrovich Bogdanov-Belsky (1868–1945), Russian painter whose work consists mainly of portraits, genre paintings, and landscapes. Born in the village of Shitiki in the Smolensk region, he studied art at the Semyon Rachinsky fine art school, icon-painting at the Troitse-Sergiyeva Lavra in 1883, modern painting at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture from 1884 to 1889, and at the Imperial Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg from 1894 to 1895. He later worked with studios in Paris. Active in St. Petersburg, he was a member of several prominent societies and became pedagogue and academician in 1903; he was an active Member of the Academy of Arts. After 1921, he worked and lived exclusively in Riga, Latvia. He died at the end of World War II, in Berlin.

Princess Gorchakova, his wife, by the same artist, 1903. (The painting is clearly dated
1903, but if they actually married in 1904, why is she already wearing a wedding ring? )

Addendum: It now appears likely that the subject of this portrait has been  misidentified. 
Per the comment below, this looks to be the sister of the Prince, not his wife. Elena 
Konstantinovna Soldatenkova was also a "Princess Gorchakova" before her marriage, 
which may help explain the confusion. I've not found any other "evidence" regarding 
the identification but, the resemblance between the two subjects being so strong, I feel 
confident in this correction.

Second addendum: As you can read in an additional comment below, the subject of this
portrait turns out to be a - different - sister of Prince Gorchakov, Maria, not Elena. As
this information comes from a great-grandson of the Prince, I think we can close the
case on this one, eh? I have to say, I find it rather wonderful to interact here with the
descendants of the people I post about; it's happened several times, now - and what fun!


  1. The female portrait is of Alexander's sister Elena Konstantinovna Soldatenkova (née princess serenissime Gortchacova (1873-1948). She was married to Vassili Vassilievitch Soldatenkov (1879-1944)

    1. Thank you for your comment, Unknown. She certainly looks like she could be the Prince's sibling! Just now, doing a hasty search online, the only image I've been able to find that is identified as Elena Konstantinovna Soldatenkova, née Gorchakova - in the photograph the subject is dressed for the famous Boyar Ball of 1903 - doesn't really resemble the woman in the painting above. Still, considering how much the lady here looks like the Prince, I'm pretty much convinced that you are correct; I'll amend the caption. : )

    2. Dear Stephilius, thank you for making the appropriate changes. You are completely right it is not Elena Konstantinovna but her sister Maria Konstantinovna (1871-1924) (she was widowed in 1901 from her first husband Prince Alexis Kudashev. She remarried a few years later Alexander N. Brianchaninov). This portrait may have been made before her second marriage and in tandem with the portrait of one of her two surviving brothers of whom one is Prince A.K. Gortchacow, my great grandfather. Here is a publically available photograph of his wife, Daria Mikhailovna Bibikova (1883-1962) on Pinterest. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/549720698248207638/. The photograph is from that same famous 1903 ball where you found the picture of Elena. It was a year before they were married. Thanks again for the quick update and so sorry for the confusion (more info on http://ru.rodovid.org/wk/%D0%97%D0%B0%D0%BF%D0%B8%D1%81%D1%8C:289410 but it is in Russian).

    3. Thank you so much for this information, Alexander! It can be so difficult to sift through to the truth when doing research; there is so much misinformation out there. And then how much more difficult when the pertinent information is in a language that I don't really read/speak (Russian). So I especially appreciate it when those who - know - share their knowledge with me, here. I'll amend the caption - again! Once more, thank you for your help. : )