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  the long gallery  
  Bust of Tsar Peter the Great, after Bartolomeo Carlo Rastrelli, copied from the 1882 Hamilton Palace sale catalogue  
                 
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© National Museums of Scotland
 

Formerly in Hamilton Palace, South Lanarkshire

Alexander, 10th Duke of Hamiltonís appointment as ambassador to Russia was not regarded as a success. He failed to achieve the two key objectives laid down by the British Foreign Secretary, Viscount Howick. These were to sign a new commercial treaty with Russia (to replace the existing treaty which was due to expire) and to get Russia to 'guarantee' the return of the Electorate of Hanover to King George III. Alexander was also criticised for passing a petition from the British merchants in St Petersburg to the Russian government in its raw form, instead of rewriting it in diplomatic language.

Nevertheless, Alexander enjoyed the two years (1807 and 1808) that he spent in Russia, and his visits to Poland and Sweden. His acquisitions included this splendid bronze bust of Tsar Peter the Great, which replicates or copies the clay bust modelled by the Italian sculptor Bartolomeo Carlo Rastrelli, in St Petersburg, in 1723. It came with a 'companion' or matching bust of the Empress Catherine II, who had died in 1796. This enlightened and racy autocrat clearly fascinated Alexander. He commissioned a full-length tapestry portrait of the Empress from the Imperial Tapestry Factory and also managed to secure one of her sable muffs and at least one oil painting of her.

 
                 
  Alexanderís other acquisitions included five mirrors commissioned from the Imperial Glass Works, two 'superb' snuff-boxes, and a parquet floor - a Russian speciality.  
                 
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  [ related links ]              
  Click for further informationAmbassadorial throne   Click for further information1825 inventory          
                 
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