Portrait of Alexandra Feodorovna

Ivan Winberg1840
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Miniature on ivory
Signed ‘Winberg’ to mid-right of image

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This miniature by Ivan Winberg (1798–1851) depicts Empress Alexandra Feodorovna (1825-1855), wife of Tsar Nicholas I (1796-1855). The Empress is depicted in full court dress. She wears a silver dress adorned at the bust with silver buttons, silver thread, diamonds, and a diamond brooch. She wears the blue moiré sash and chest-star of the Russian Order of St Andrew, the patron saint of Russia. Her large, fan-shaped headdress is decorated with diamonds, pearls and precious stones. At her neck, she wears a pearl necklace with a large square-cut ruby set into a diamond base. She is painted in an interior setting, flanked by red drapery and lace. The composition and clothing closely resemble the 1836 portrait of Alexandra by Alexander Maliukov, held in the collection at the Hermitage Museum. This miniature has a square gilt-wood frame adorned with Imperial Russian eagles.

Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, also known as Charlotte of Prussia, was the daughter the Prussian King Frederick William III. She married the future Tsar Nicholas I in 1817, aged nineteen. Though the marriage was arranged for political reasons, theirs was a happy union that produced a large family of seven children. In spite of her powerful position, Alexandra was not known for affairs of state, and was somewhat overshadowed by her domineering husband. As this miniature indicates, she was greatly interested in jewellery, affairs of the court, and family matters. She outlived her husband by five years.

Ivan Winberg, a well-known Russian miniaturist of Swedish origin, studied at the Imperial Academy in St Petersburg; in 1846, he became a professor of miniature painting there. He regularly exhibited his miniatures at annual academic exhibitions. Today his works can be viewed in major museums nationally and internationally, including: the Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, the Hermitage, St Petersburg, and the Victoria and Albert, London.

Note: This is one of a pair with the Portrait of Nicholas I by the same artist, which is housed in an identical frame.

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