. Oil on canvas. The Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia. Read Note.
Shakhovskaya, Elisabeth (also Elizaveta) Borisovna (1773-1796), Countess, daughter of Lieutenant General, Count Boris Grigorievich Shakhovskoy and his wife Baroness Varvara Alexandrovna Stroganova, was born November 29, 1773. She spent her childhood and youth in France, where, February 4, 1792, she was married off to Prince d’Arenberg (1757-1795), who took an active part in revolutionary events in Europe. When she found out about the marriage, Catherine II was indignant, “Je veux agir avec vigueur dans un pareil cas” (I’m going to act resolutely in this case). She ordered both countesses to return to Russia and Prince d’Arenberg was not allowed to enter the country. Catherine II was afraid of his revolutionary ideas, which could become more productive with the help of the enormous fortune of the countesses (they had 13,000 serfs only in the Perm region). The marriage was dissolved by the Holy Sinod. On her return to Russia Elizabeth fell in love with her namesake, Count Piotr (also Peter) Fiodorovich Shakhovskoy (1773-1841) and left with him to his estate, where they were married against the will of her parents. A year later Elizabeth committed suicide by poisoning herself. This death aroused much whispering in high society. There were several legends. The first one said that her former husband, Prince d’Arenberg, came to Russia incognito, met her and asked her to return to him. After she refused, he committed suicide April 2, 1795 in Rome. She, in her turn, died when she learned about his death.
The second legend is more probable: Elizabeth fell in love with a young guard officer, unfortunately her love was not mutual and the passionate beauty chose death