Sunday, August 4, 2013

Maria Kochubey Baryatinskaya by Christina Robertson

Maria Kochubey Bariatinsky by Christina Robertson (Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow)

Christina Robertson (née Sanders) (Fife, Scotland, 1796 - Sint-Petersburg, 1854) was a Scottish artist. In 1822 she married the artist James Robertson with whom she had eight children. She took part in the annual exhibition of the Royal Academy of Arts in London and Edinburgh. She was applauded by critics and became the first woman sworn in as honorary member of the Royal Scottish Academy.

Her portrait work of the English upper class regularly served as the basis for engravings from magazines of the time, it was through these publications that her fame spread to the Russian dignitaries in St. Petersburg. England at that time was very much in vogue in Russia, it was a period of 'anglomania' in Russian high society, anything British was very fashionable.

Christina Robertson - Self portrait (1822)

Around 1830, during visits to Paris, she got the opportunity to portray some Russian officials. She exhibited in St. Petersburg and her popularity among the Russian nobility rose, after which they asked her to paint two full-length portraits of Tsar Nicholas I and Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna. In 1847 she settled permanently in Russia. But eventually the relation between Britain and Russia cooled off, culminating in the Crimean War. Her work wasn't appreciated anymore with full enthusiasm. Her health and perhaps her financial situation went backwards. In 1854 she died, and she is buried at the Volkovo cemetery in St. Petersburg.

next episode: Gabriella


  1. What a beautiful painting. You can almost hear the rustle of silk in that dress!

  2. 8 children and still time to paint! I'm impressed. I wonder if she took the whole family (children included) to St Petersburg, it sounds like hers would be an interesting biography to read.

  3. Interesting history. I visited St. Petersburg, then called Leningrad, in the early 1960s. A wonderful city with incredibly architecture.

  4. Just did an online image search of Robertson's paintings...they are lovely. She portrayed many of her subjects with a glow or luminous quality; I like her style. Her painting entitled "Children with a Parrot" is my favorite. Thanks for introducing us to another superb artist!


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