Franz Gerhard von Kügelgen, Empress Maria Feodorovna (1759-1828), wearing décolleté black dress, vei
Lot 81
Franz Gerhard von Kügelgen, Empress Maria Feodorovna (1759-1828), wearing décolleté black dress, veil and cameo of Paul I at her corsage on a chain pinned to her left shoulder with the Cross of the Order of Malta
Sold for £34,655 (US$ 58,248) inc. premium
Lot Details
Franz Gerhard von Kügelgen (Bacharach 1772 - Dresden 1820)


  • Following the assassination of her husband in 1801 the Empress Maria Feodorova built up a cult of veneration for the ‘martyred’ Emperor. Her personal attributes of this cult were the Cross of the Order of Malta and ‘a small medallion of her husband’ which Cornélie de Wassenaer observed the Empress continued to wear nearly a quarter of a century after his death (cf. C. de Wassenaer, A visit to St Petersburg 1824-1825, 1994, p.52). Emperor Paul I had established the Order of Malta in Russia in 1797; the following year he proclaimed himself Grand Master and amongst others bestowed the Order upon his consort and children.
    The ‘small medallion’ was a more private souvenir. When still a Grand Duchess she was taught the art of engraving hardstone cameos by Karl Leberecht and subsequently produced profile portraits of members of her immediate family, including Empress Catherine II, her consort and children. These cameos were made into pendants and brooches, and occasionally were used to decorate table lamps and ink stands (for examples of these cameos see A.V. Alexeïeva et al, Pavlovsk Les Collections, Paris, 1993, p.16).

    Alexander Nicholaievich Golitzin (1773-1844) was from his youth a close friend of Grand Duke Alexander Pavlovich, later Emperor Alexander I. Appointed a Page at Court in 1791, he became a lieutenant of the Presbrajensky regiment in 1794. Banished from Court in 1799 he regained favour following the succession of Alexander I. He held numerous official posts including Privy Councillor, member of the Council of the Empire and Secretary of State. Emperor Nicholas I believed Prince Golitzin to be ‘the most faithful friend of his family’. Grand Duke Nicholas Mikhailovich wrote of him ‘Voltarian and Epicurian in his youth, Prince Golitzin later became deeply pious with strong tinges of mysticism and sentimentality- partly a general period trait, but also due the influence of his Imperial friend’ (cf. Portraits Russes, St Petersburg, 1905-1909, Vol.II, no.48.
    The Prince was an admirer and supporter of Beethoven and facilitated the first performance of the 'Missa Solemnis' in St Petersburg. He wrote to Beethoven ‘One could say your genius has come before its time. Future generations shall give you your due, and shall hold precious your memory much better than your contemporaries have managed to do’. The composer dedicated three late quartets to him ‘It gives me great pleasure to note your interest in my creations. Knowing that you play the cello, I shall certainly try to bring satisfaction in this sphere’.