Portrait of Queen Catherine Paulovna of Württemberg

Portrait, Queen Catherine, Paulovna, Württemberg, Dietrich Jakob Christian Mathes, Miniature, painting, Artist, Russia, Germany,
Portrait of Queen Catherine Paulovna of Württemberg c.1820. Dietrich Jakob Christian Mathes

Portrait of Queen Catherine Paulovna of Württemberg (1788-1819).

Costume of Empire/Regency period

Dietrich Jakob Christian Mathes: Portrait of Queen Katharina Paulowna of Württemberg c.1820, daughter of Paul I of Russia; since 1816 wife of King Wilhelm I of Württemberg; + 1819. Hip portrait without hands, almost from the front. Brown hair and brown eyes, cut-out white dress and violet shawl. Left background green curtain, right grey-blue sky. Ivory, oval 6:8 cm. Property of the Royal Chamberlain Baron Karl von Valois, Major (ret.), Stuttgart.

Catherine Pavlovna Romanova (Russian: Екатерина Павловна), Grand Duchess of Russia, was born on 10 May 1788 in Tsarskoye Selo and died on 9 January 1819 in Stuttgart. She was the younger sister of Alexander I of Russia and by marriage Duchess of Oldenburg and later Queen of Württemberg.

Catherine Pavlovna of Russia belonged to the first branch of the House of Oldenburg-Russia, which descended from the first branch of the House of Holstein-Gottorp, which in turn descended from the first branch of the House of Oldenburg.

During the Napoleonic Wars, Napoleon, who was divorced from Josephine de Beauharnais on 16 December 1809, expressed his desire to marry Catherine Pavlovna of Russia in order to win the Russians over to his side. Catherine, like the rest of the Romanov family, was horrified by this. Tsarina Sophie-Dorothea immediately arranged the marriage of her daughter to her first cousin, Duke George of Oldenburg. The wedding took place on 3 August 1809 in Saint Petersburg.

Although it was an arranged marriage and the duke had an ungrateful physique, the young duchess held her husband in high esteem. When he fell ill with typhus, Catherine Pavlovna nursed him caringly. George of Oldenburg died on 27 December 1812 as a result of this illness.

Two sons were born of this union:

Duke Peter Georg Paul Alexander of Oldenburg (30 August 1810 – 16 November 1829) and Duke Konstantin Friedrich Peter of Oldenburg (26 August 1812 – 14 May 1881).

The widowed Duchess of Oldenburg travelled with her brother Alexander I from Russia to England, where she met her cousin, Crown Prince Wilhelm of Württemberg, son of King Frederick I of Württemberg (1754-1816) and Princess Augusta Caroline of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel (1764-1788). For the couple it was love at first sight. Wilhelm decided to divorce his wife, Caroline Augusta of Bavaria, in order to marry Katharina. The wedding of Catherine Pavlovna of Russia to the newly divorced William took place in Saint Petersburg on 24 January 1816.

This union produced:

Marie (Frederikke Charlotte) von Württemberg (1816-1887), who was born on 30 October, coincidentally the very day that Ekaterina’s father-in-law Friedrich I. of Württemberg died, marries Count Alfred von Neipperg (1807-1865), son and heir of Count Adam Albert von Neipperg (second husband of Empress Marie-Louise, Napoleon’s widow) in 1840; Sophie (Frederike Mathilde) of Württemberg (1818-1877), marries Catherine’s nephew, William III of the Netherlands (1817-1890), King of the Netherlands since 1849, in 1839.

In the same year, Wilhelm succeeded his father on the Württemberg throne. In October 1816, crop failures in Württemberg lead to inflation and famine. The young queen becomes very active. She founded charity centres to alleviate the hardship of her subjects, promoted the elementary school system, and in Stuttgart she founded a girls’ school and the Katharinenhospital in 1818, as well as the Württemberg Savings Bank on 12 May 1818.

Catherine Pavlovna of Russia dies on 9 January 1819, at the age of thirty, in Stuttgart of erysipelas complicated by pneumonia. Wilhelm I of Württemberg has a mausoleum built for his wife in Rotenburg in the Stuttgart district of Obertürkheim. She is buried in this mausoleum, which is called a burial chapel on the Württemberg.

Dietrich Jakob Christian Mathes 1780-1833.

Dietrich Jakob Christian Mathes (Matthes) was born in Hamburg in 1780. He was the son of the Hamburg painter Nicolaus Christian Mathes (Matthes). His father and later the miniature painter Suhr were his first teachers. Mathes, who worked in various German cities, came to Russia around 1800. He was appointed to the Kharkov university in 1803 and to the Petersburg academy as a titular councillor in 1813. He made a large number of portrait miniatures for the Russian court and enjoyed the reputation of an important artist in Russian society. He also painted flowers and fruits. Mathes died in Petersburg in 1833. His works are rare in Germany, as he spent most of his life in Russia. There you must still find numerous miniature portraits by his hand. We reproduce a very fine work by the master: the portrait of Queen Catherine of Württemberg, a daughter of Paul I of Russia.

Source: The Portrait Miniature in Germany from 1550 to 1850 by Ernst Lemberger. Munich: F. Bruckmann, 1909.

Leave a Reply