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Faces of Russia’s Empire: Ethnographic Images as Princely Pedagogy

An online lecture by Dr. Nathaniel Knight 

What did people in the 18th-century Russian Empire look like? Photography did not exist, and visual depictions of the inhabitants of the empire from before the reign of Catherine II (1762–1796) are quite rare. A recently uncovered album of watercolors and oils in the Swedish National Museum dating from the 1740s is a major discovery that helps to fill this lacuna. The images are associated with the name of Friedrich Wilhelm Bergholtz (1699–1772), a collector who served as a tutor to the Grand Duke Petr Fedorovich, the future Peter III of Russia.

The album raises a broad range of questions: Why was it compiled? Who were the artists? When were the images created? And how did the album turn up in Sweden?  During his lecture, Dr. Knight will address these questions, as well as analyze the paintings and put forth a theory as to album’s origin and purpose.

Click the button below and register now. If you can’t attend live, there is an option to request the recording!

About the Speaker

Nathaniel Knight is Professor of History and Director of the Russian and East European Studies Program at Seton Hall University. He is the author of numerous works on Russian cultural and intellectual history with a particular focus on the history of the human sciences. Recent works include: “What’s in a Hat?  Representations of Gender and Ethnicity in Eighteenth Century Russia,” in Picturing Russian Empire, (Oxford University Press, 2023); and “Why did Nadezhdin Publish Chaadaev: Interests versus Ideas in the Literary Politics of the 1830s,” Russian Review, v. 81, 209-226 (April 2022).

Connecting With Zoom

This virtual lecture is presented live via Zoom. Registered users will be emailed a link to join this Zoom program. To get started, please download Zoom on your chosen device and explore the Frequently Asked Questions.

This program will be recorded and posted to the museum’s YouTube channel.


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