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

Friday, March 25, 2016

Ink silhouettes of Grand Duke Paul, his wife, and two sons, circa 1784

"Grand Duke Paul Petrovich and Grand Duchess Maria Feodorovna with Their Sons Planting a Tree in Front of Catherine II's Bust".

The Grand Duke Paul was the only son of Catherine II of Russia, yet it's rather ironic that the Empress is an object of veneration in this image; to put it mildly, mother and son had very little affection for each other. Paul's first wife had died in childbirth and he is pictured here with his second wife, the former Sophia Dorothea of Württemberg, and their first two children - there would be ten in all, nine surviving to adulthood - the heir presumptive Grand Duke Alexander Pavlovich and Grand Duke Konstantin Pavlovich. The Empress had had both boys placed under her charge at birth and was so out of sympathy with her son that she planned to have Alexander rather than his father succeed her. When she died, twelve years after these silhouettes were made, Alexander honored his father's position in the succession though, as it was, he would reign for less than five years before his erratic and despotic behavior led to a coup. He was murdered and his son would go on to rule as Tsar Alexander I, the great enemy of Napoléon.

From what I can tell, all of these are done in India ink on glass.
This silhouette is backed with "bronze paint" - whatever that is. I'm not sure if the paint is applied to the glass or to another backing surface.
In this version, the Empress' portrait bust has disappeared.
The bust of the Empress has also disappeared from this version. (The image looks to be taken with a separation between glass and backing.


  1. Intriguing in more ways than one. The glittery substance behind the glass may well have been ground mica. Robert Adam used it at Northumberland House in the so-called Glass Drawing Room, where the mica flakes were backed with, alternately, red or green paint to evoke porphyry. Segments of that room are on display in the V & A British galleries and the effect is surprisingly glitzy, but in a good way.

  2. these are fabulous -i love silhouettes