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Peter the Great Visiting the Marquise de Maintenon in 1717

Gorski Konstanty,
Oil on canvas
70 х 92

State Russian Museum


Gorski painted this picture in Paris to a commission from Emperor Alexander III, and it shows an event from Peter the Great’s stay in the French capital during his second journey abroad in 1717. While seeing the city’s sights Peter visited a school for girls set up by the famous Françoise d’Aubigné, Marquise de Maintenon, the morganatic wife of Louis XIV. After asking about lessons and looking at the classrooms in this model educational establishment the Tsar decided to go and see Mme de Maintenon herself, as for him she was a living embodiment of the grand siècle of Louis XIV, whom Peter venerated. Mme de Maintenon was frightened of meeting the ruler of unknown and savage Muscovy, so she said that she was ill. Peter was not put off by the circumstances, went without permission into the room where she was, lifted up the curtains round the bed, looked at the allegedly sick person and then left without saying a word.

Author's Biography

Gorski Konstanty

Gorski, Konstanty (Konstantin Nikolayevich)
1854, Novocherkassk – 1943, Moscow
Painter, graphic artist, author of Russian historical subjects. Studied at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture (1872–1876), Imperial Academy of Arts (1876–1871). Awarded a major gold medal and the title of the first-class artist in history painting (1881) for St Sergius of Radonezh Blesses Dmitry of the Don for the Battle with Mamaiаnd Sends Two Monks with Him. Fellow of the Imperial Academy of Arts in Germany, Austria, Belgium, England, France (1882–1885). Lived and worked in Paris (1887–1889). Contributed to exhibitions (from 1882), including Paris Salon (1886), World Exhibitions in Paris (1886, 1900) and London (1889). Taught at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture (1891–1918), Moscow Higher Technical School (1896–1917), Stroganov School of Art and Industry (1902–1918), Moscow Institute of Civil Engineering (1930–1943), professor. Member of the Society of Graphic Arts Teachers (1906–1917).

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