1790s. Oil on canvas. The Pavlovsk Palace. Pavlovsk, Russia. Read Note.
Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna (1786-1859) - the third daughter of Emperor Pavel I. She was known for her patronage of arts and her willingness to learn. In her childhood, Maria suffered from small pox and her face had harsh, sharp lines, but when she matured she became so attractive that she was called ‘the pearl of the family’. She had lots of boyish habits, which worried her mother, Empress Maria Fedororvna, and her tutors. Catherine II, the Great wrote that her granddaughter Maria ‘behaved like a dragoon – she was afraid of nothing and all her games resembled a boy’s. Her favorite pose was to put her hands on her hips.’ By dint of great effort, her tutors managed to overcome her ‘bad manners’ but they didn’t eradicate her open, happy character and love of knowledge, which was considered a man’s pursuit. In 1804, Maria married Charles Frederic of Saxe-Weimar, heir to Grand Duke Saxe-Weimar. While in Weimar she took lessons from the professors of the Jena University and met Goethe, Schiller, Wieland and other outstanding German minds of the time. Schiller acknowledged in her a great talent for music and painting and a real love for reading. Goethe called her one of the best and most outstanding women of his time.
See also Vladimir Borovikovsky. Portrait of Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna.