1883. Oil on canvas. The Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia. Read Note.
Menshikov, Alexander Danilovich (c. 1660-1729), Russian field-marshal and statesman, prince (1707), born of poor parents in Moscow. Entering the army in 1693, he distinguished himself at the siege of Azov, and afterwards accompanied Peter I the Great in his travels to Holland and England. He played an important part during the war with Sweden (1702-13). At the capture of Marienburg the peasant girt Marta Skavronskaya fell into Menshikov's hands and became his mistress. He later introduced her to the tzar, who first made her his mistress and then married her. She was baptized in the Russian Orthodox Church and renamed Catherine. When Peter I died, Menshikov secured the succession of Catherine I, and during her reign and that of her young successor, Peter II, he governed Russia with almost absolute authority. He was about to marry off his daughter, Maria, to the young tzar when a plot of the old nobility led to his banishment to the Siberian town of Berezovo and the confiscation of his estates