One cameo silhouette portrait attributed to Empress Maria Fedorovna (1759-1828), St Petersburg, 1790
Lot 262*
A cameo silhouette double-portrait Empress Maria Fedorovna (1759-1828), St Petersburg, 1791
Sold for £3,750 (US$ 6,296) inc. premium
Auction Details
Lot Details
A cameo silhouette double-portrait
Empress Maria Fedorovna (1759-1828), St Petersburg, 1791
cut in two-tone glass as cameos in profile: showing a double portrait of Grand Duke Alexander Pavlovich and Grand Duke Konstantin Pavlovich (sons of Empress Maria Fedorovna and Emperor Paul) as heroes of antiquity, inscribed underneath the bust of Grand Duke Konstantin Maria and dated 21 April 1791
length: 6.3cm (2 1/2in).


  • Identical portraits carved in agate-onyx cameo are in the collection of the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. They were gifts of Empress Maria to Catherine the Great in 1790-1791. An identical example of the double portrait of Grand Dukes Alexander and Konstantin in cut glass is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and in the collection of the State Kremlin Museums in Moscow.

    Empress Maria Fedorovna was an accomplished artist, engraver and stone-cutter. Tutored by the famous engraver Karl Leberecht, Maria Fedorovna produced profile portraits of her consort, children, Catherine the Great and close friends. Often mounted in gold and bronze frames, they were her personal gifts to friends and family members. Thus the double portrait of the heir to the Russian throne, Grand Duke Alexander and his brother Konstantin, is dated 21 April 1791 marking the birthday of Empress Catherine the Great. The Empress was very involved in the upbringing and education of both Grand Dukes and even chose their names at birth. It is known that every year for her birthday Maria Fedorovna produced similar works and presented them to a close group of personal friends and relatives. Catherine the Great, an avid collector of carved cameos herself, encouraged this hobby and ordered glass copies of ancient cameos from her personal collection to serve as a samples to her daughter-in-law. Maria Fedorovna was instructed by the court artist and chemist Georg Kenig who specialized in preparing glass paste for such projects and who taught Maria Fedorovna all the secrets of the delicate skill of glass cutting.

    These rare and historically significant works of art are testament to the technical skills, artistic talent, and creativity of perhaps one the most gifted members of the Russian monarchy.

Saleroom notices

  • Please note that the white glass profile appears to be a slightly later carved glass panel applied to an earlier amber glass base.
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