Konstantin Makovsky, 1839-1915

Konstantin Makovsky, 1839-1915

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Konstantin Makovsky, The Russian Bride's Attire Beneath the Crown, 1889

(Click the image for a lightbox view)

The story of the marriage of Maria Miloslavskaya to Czar Alexis I in 1648 was a well-known tale in Russian history.

According to custom, when it was time for the Tsar to marry, the most eligible daughters of the Russian nobility were brought to the imperial court for inspection and selection. In 1647, the organization of the event was handled by the courtier Boris Morozov. He was determined that Tsar Alexis I should choose young Maria Miloslavskaya, a beautiful woman whose sister Anna Boris planned to marry. If the tsar chose Maris, Boris would thereby become the ruler’s brother-in-law.

But the selection did not go as planned, The tsar instead chose the seventeen-year-old Euphemia Fedorovna Vsevolozhskaya. However, according to one story, Boris contrived to have Anna faint. She was then diagnosed as an elliptic, and accused to attempting to deceive the tsar by hiding her illness. For the reputed treachery, Anna and her father were exiled to Siberia, and Tsar Alexis I married Maria.

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Some commentators see dejection in Maria's face, and sympathy in the countenance of her Sister Anna. More likely she has assumed an  attitude of seriousness, with perhaps a foreshadowing of her fate: she would die giving birth to her thirteenth child in 1669.

The man in the doorway might be the groom-to-be Czar Alexis, but more probably it is the marriage broker/manipulator Boris Morozov.

 

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