EMPRESS OF ARTSUSAN JAQUES Book Number: 87194 Product format: Paperback
Sub-titled 'Catherine the Great and the Transformation of Russia' here is a book for art lovers to discover untold riches. Intelligent and determined, Catherine modelled herself on her grandfather-in-law Peter the Great, and sought to modernise and westernise Russia. She believed the best way to do this was through a ravenous acquisition of art, used as a form of diplomacy with other powers throughout Europe. A self-proclaimed 'glutton for art', Catherine would be responsible for the creation of The Hermitage, one of the largest museums in the world, second only to the Louvre. She spearheaded the further expansion of St Petersburg, and the magnificent architectural wonder the city became is largely her doing. Catherine shocked contemporaries with her sexually liberated lifestyle, extramarital affairs and illegitimate children to a string of official favourites. From the start she mobilised art and architecture to legitimise her shaky claim to rule and to reinvent herself as Russia's enlightened ruler. She amassed a collection taken from France, Austria, and Saxony's royal houses. If the French court was dining on Roettiers silver and Sèvres porcelain at Versailles, she would set an even more magnificent table for her guests at the Winter Palace. Impatient for masterworks, she set her agents loose in the auction houses of Paris, Berlin and Amsterdam and her scouts commissioned contemporary artworks on her behalf. 466pp in paperback, many colour photos.
Published price: £12.99
Bibliophile price: £6.00