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H. Rebst 1837

Portrait of Tsar Alexander II

Miniature on ivory

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This 1837 miniature by H. Rebst depicts Tsar Nicholas I (1796-1855). As was common for miniatures of this period, the monarch is shown in ceremonial uniform. Nicholas wears a black coat with a gold-figured red collar and gold epaulettes. The blue moiré sash across his chest indicates the Tsar’s support of the Russian Order of St Andrew – the patron saint of Russia – as does the red, blue and silver breast star to the top right of his coat, half-hidden by the epaulette’s fringe. The remaining breast stars belong to the Russian Order of St Vladimir; the Russian badge of the Persian campaign of 1826-28; the Order of the Dutch Lion; and the Russian badge for 15 years of Military Service.

The third and youngest son of Tsar Paul I, Nicholas I’s motto was ‘autocracy, Orthodoxy and nationality’: the cornerstones of the Tsar’s  leadership style. Believing himself divinely ordained to expand the Russian homeland, Nicholas embarked on a series of wars including the Crimean War of 1853-56, which ultimately proved disastrous for Russia. Though his features seem youthful in this particular miniature, his startling blue eyes, emphasised by the prominent sash and badge details, convey a sense of the Tsar’s ambition.

H. Rebst Portrait of Tsar Alexander II
H. Rebst Portrait of Tsar Alexander II
H. Rebst Portrait of Tsar Alexander II
H. Rebst Portrait of Tsar Alexander II
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