The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

December 12, 2013

December 12, 1799

Karl Bryullov (December 12,  1799  to June 11, 1852), was a Russian painter famous for his history paintings and his portraits. His heart seems always to have been in Italy and that is where he was when he died. His fame as a painter meant commissions from aristocrats. Count Sergei Stroganov. (1794 to 1882) is one such. The Count was an education trustee for Moscow, (as of 1835) and committed to raising the standards of Moscow University, Russia's oldest university. It was in the early 19th century effective at turning out government servants but not intellectuals on European lines. Count Stroganov was in a position to see that foreign scholars were brought to the institution and funds available for Russian students to study in the West. Although the new faculty turned out to be largely Hegelians, a philosophy thought to be atheistic, Stroganov resisted the impulse to assert his own nationalistic and religious biases, and protected the new faculty.

This we learn from 
Gary M. Hamburg's Boris Chicherin & Early Russian Liberalism: 1828 - 1866 (1992), but nothing I have found so far  illuminates  the portrait of Stroganov's daughter, Princess Saltykov, This was a painting Karl Bryullov did about 1841. The elaborate frame includes details of the Stroganov arms-- the heraldic sable and eagles. The question of mine concerns the leopard skin rug or rugs at the feet of the Princess. One assumes this reflects an era when warm feet were a prerogative of royalty, but that is just a guess.  Was a splash of southern exoticism part of how the Russian elite saw themselves? Well it is a lovely picture.


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