Zinaida Yusupova by Francois Flameng (1894, Hermitage)Public domain
“It was not her noble rank but her personal qualities that justified the choice [of a tsar]. While depicting her, the contemporaries assigned to her
Anastasia Romanovna on the Monument 'Millennium of Russia' in Veliky NovgorodDar Veter/Wikipedia
Her death in 1560 left the Tsar severely psychologically traumatized. Ivan believed that she was poisoned by rebellious boyars and Anastasia’s death was followed by the first wave of Ivan’s repressions against the nobility. Anastasia belonged to Romanov family whose members would occupy the Russian throne for 300 years from 1613.
One of the best opera singers and actresses of the 18th century, Russia Praskovia Zhemchugova was born into the family of a serf (the serfdom would be abolished in Russia a century later, in 1861). She and her family were the property of the noble Sheremetev family. Praskovia plied her trade in a serf theater that Piotr Sheremetev and his son Nikolay established and the latter was incredibly impressed by the delicate and refined beauty of the talented, young actress
Praskovia Zhemchugova in a scenic costume for Les mariages samnites by André Ernest Modeste GrétryPublic domain
For years Maria Naryshkina was a mistress of Russian Emperor Alexander I. Contemporaries talked about her striking beauty, and one of them, Philip
Maria Naryshkina by Jozef Grassi, 1807Public domain
Princess Zinaida Yusupova was one of the wealthiest most beautiful women of late Imperial Russia. Her son Felix Yusupov, the one who organized the murder of Rasputin, wrote this about her: “The mother was charming. She was tall, thin, refined, swarthy, and dark-haired with eyes that shone like stars. She was also smart, educated, artistic, and kind. Nobody could escape her magic.”
Zinaida Yusupova by Valentin Serov, 1900-1902Public domain
She was also a famous philanthropist. Meriel Buchanan, the daughter of the last British ambassador to Imperial Russia, described the Russian noblewoman in her book Ladies of the Russian Court: “She was always ready to give, freely and generously, to anyone who appealed to her, to do what she could to help anyone in distress, to lend her name, her house, her resources for any worthy cause, but she shrank from publicity, from all the complications of executive administration.”
Being from one of the wealthiest Russian families, she owned a large collection of jewels. It was second only to that of the Romanovs. When she escaped Russia after the Revolution in 1917, she managed to take the biggest stones with her.
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