Catherine the Great
Empress of Russia
Born Princess Sophia August Frederika in Germany, Catherine traveled to Russia with her mother when she was fourteen as a potential match for Peter, heir to the Russian throne. The Empress of Russia, Elizabeth, was enchanted with Catherine. Catherine enthusiastically adapted to her new country, studying the Russian language and converting to Russian Orthodoxy, where she was rechristened Yekaterina or Catherine. Catherine and Peter wed August 21, 1745.
Peter ascended the throne in December 1761 following the death of Elizabeth. Peter’s pro-Prussian policies made animosity toward the ruler grow quickly. Six months after taking the throne, on June 28, 1762, a coup-d’etat put Catherine in power.
Catherine was crowned the most pious and Orthodox Empress Catherine II on September 22, 1762. She cultivated the loyalty of the Russian people and under her reign, the nation saw an emergence of national culture and arts, music, and education flourished. After her death in 1796, her son Tsar Paul I ascended the throne.
This painting is based on Alexander Roslin's famous portrait of Catherine.