Saturday, February 22, 2014

Painting of the Day: Nicholas I, Emperor of Russia, in Repose, 1855

Nicholas I, Emperor of Russia
Watercolor on Ivory, 1855
H.P. Heidemanns
The Royal Collection

Well, by “repose,” I suppose I mean, “dead.” This rather grim miniature was painted in watercolor on ivory in 1855, the year of Emperor Nicholas I’s death. The usually sturdy Russian leader caught a chill during the Crimean War and ignored it, continuing his strenuous work schedule. He developed pneumonia and died.

Queen Victoria purchased the miniature in 1879. Most likely her interest in the object stemmed from her ongoing feelings of guilt about the Crimean War. Despite its somber subject matter, it’s a lovely little painting from the hand of Henri Philippe Heidemanns.

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