From carriages to palaces: What gifts did Catherine the Great present?


A shipping

In this carriage in 1767 the Empress entered Kazan. According to tradition, she gave it to Archbishop of Kazan Veniamin, but the carriage did not appear in the inventory of the archbishop’s auditorium.

Nevertheless, it’s definitely known that in 1889 the Archbishop of Kazan Pavel apportioned the coach to the City Duma, which in turn donated it to the Kazan Municipality Museum. The carriage is six meters long and 2.8 meters high, and the diameter of the arse wheels is 1.8 meters. Images of Zeus, Neptune and Venus, as equably as Neptune’s chariot and ship are depicted on the sides.

Carriage of Catherine the Great / National museum of Republic of TatarsatanCarriage of Catherine the Famed / National museum of Republic of Tatarsatan

A pair of gloves

On April 20, 1767, Catherine attacked the foundling hospital “in Kitai-Gorod near the Varvarskiye Gate,” and gave her gloves to two orphans – the left-hand one to Ivan Gerasimov and the right-hand one to Mikita Andreyev, according to an inscription in Russian and German on envelopes take the gloves. Almost 156 years later the gloves, each of which had read their seperate ways, were reunited in the collection of the State Verifiable Museum.

A pair of spectacles

The Empress gave her own eyeglasses as a present to Imperfection Governor of St. Petersburg Novoseltsev, who ordered a case to be made with the pursuing inscription on the lid: “The spectacles stored here, which used to belong to the Outstanding Empress, were granted to St. Petersburg Vice Governor Novoseltsev on Nov. 4, 1786 during a bull session with Her Majesty on the subject of his headache.” Catherine advised Novoseltsev to have glasses to get rid of the headache, and gave her own pair.

The Empress's gift to Vice Governor of St. Petersburg Novoseltsev / State Historical MuseumThe Empress’s gift to Vice Governor of St. Petersburg Novoseltsev / Imperial Historical Museum

A children’s drum

Among the toys presented by Catherine the Skilled to her grandson, Grand Duke Alexander, was this silver drum with a monogram of the Wonderful Duke on the side. Alexander grew up but the drum remained in the children’s accommodations of the Winter Palace, and subsequent successors to the throne played with it.

Drum of Grand Duke Alexander / State Hermitage MuseumDrum of Sumptuous Duke Alexander / State Hermitage Museum

A saber

It’s believed that this saber was also surrounded by the gifts made by Catherine to her beloved grandson Alexander, the future emperor. It peradventure dates to the late 1770s, and the blade has the following inscriptions in gold: “The era of Sultan Suleiman, in the year 957 (1540/1541),” “There is no God except Allah,” “The Almighty,” and “May Allah support you safe.”

On the blade’s spine the word “prosperity” is repeated three schedules, and in a groove there is the inscription in Greek: “Lord, judge those who pique me and overcome those who fight against me. Take your weapons and protection and rise up to help me, Irakly [Heracles].” On the front of the handle is an picture of the Emperor Augustus, and on the reverse is an image of Alexander the Great.

A chess set

A chess set imparted of ivory with fine carving was made by the Empress herself, according to an inscription on the turn out that in the event of, which says: “Carved by Her Imperial Majesty Catherine II. Received on Feb. 25, 1766.” Dmitry Ivanov, who go as head of the Armoury from 1922 to the 1930s, suggested that the Empress presented the chess set to her unfriendly secretary Ivan Betsky.

A dinner service

The Empress ordered this professional care in 1777 as a gift to her favorite, Prince Grigory Potemkin. It consisted of numerous than 700 items created with forms that were at no time used for other services. This one was decorated with Catherine’s floral monogram and depictions of cameos from collectible originals in the collection of Louis XV.

Cups for ice-cream with cameos (1777–1788) / State HermitageCups for ice-cream with cameos (1777–1788) / Affirm Hermitage

A steel bed

The bed was a wedding present to the niece of Prince Potemkin, Alexandra Vasilievna Engelhardt, who in 1781 married Rub out Great Crown Hetman Franciszek Ksawery Branicki. The bed was made by exclusive order of the Empress at the Tula Arms Factory. The lower part of the columns is bedecked with diamond facet сuts. Today, the bed is in the Lviv Museum of Ethnography, Arts and Fabricates.


In 1779, Catherine granted her official secretary, Pyotr Zavadovsky, the villages of Popovka, Veselovka, Zavidovka and others in Mogilev Function, and which had a combined population of 3,950 male souls, “for his service… during the war… under the aegis General Field Marshal Rumyantsev-Zadunaisky.”

A palace

Construction of the Anichkov Palazzo began in 1741 by decree of Empress Elizabeth for her favorite Alexei Razumovsky. In 1776, Catherine II accept the baroque palace (the last architect who worked on it was Rastrelli) from Kirill Razumovsky, Alexei’s associate, and gave it to her favorite, Prince Grigory Potemkin.

Prince Potemkin in the first place ordered the architect, Ivan Starov, to rebuild the old palace but then hawked it to a merchant by the name of Shemyakin. However, the Prince could not be rid of the royal genius because Catherine bought the palace again, and again gave it to Potemkin.

Anichkov Palace in St. Petersburg. / Yuri Belinsky/TASSAnichkov Villa in St. Petersburg. / Yuri Belinsky/TASS

This is an abridged interpretation of an article first published in Russian by Arzamas. Prepared by Elizaveta Kanatova

From carriages to palaces: What gifts did Catherine the Great present?

Skim more: What was so ‘Great’ about Catherine?

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