mariaslozak: Countess Elena “Lilly” Ivanovna Orlova-Denisova…


Countess Elena “Lilly” Ivanovna Orlova-Denisova (née

Chertkova), portrayed in Paris at the age of twenty-three. From glimpses in letters and society pages of the era one gathers she was as familiar a face at the Imperial court and aristocratic salons of France as as in her native Russia. A wealthy heiress in her own right who had made a profitable match and who was closely related to the cultured, cosmopolitan Stroganovs, she is singled out for her charm by friends and acquaintances and for her high connections by others. In February 1863, when a lavish costume ball was held in Nice for 1500 guests, her selection of “a rich, Russian court dress” was one of those admired by Le Moniteur de la Mode.

Widowed (with, I think, two daughters) later the same year, she went on to marry Count Pyotr Andreyevich Shuvalov, a controversial statesman and aide-de-camp to Tsar Alexander II who in the 1870s became the Russian Ambassador to Great Britain; they had five children together. Of him, the British special correspondent to Russia for the Standard and a close friend of the Shuvalovs noted ruefully that he had a “somewhat excessive liking for champagne” but also that his eventual political impopularity in Russia stood in stark contrast to the exceptionally high regard he was held in by almost everyone who knew him personally.

Image: Oil on canvas by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, 1853. Edited from the photo published in The Wrightsman Pictures by Jane Wrightsman, 2005.

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