Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris … the largest tomb … Baroness Stroganova …

If one looks further than Père Lachaise’s famous tombs – that of Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, Jim Morrison, Gertrude Stein and her lover Alice B. Toklas to name but them – one finds the most extraordinary tombs. Wandering off the cobbled paths (chemins or allées) my mouth fell open when I came across the large […]

The tomb of Baroness Stroganova -- the largest in the cemetery


If one looks further than Père Lachaise’s famous tombs – that of Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, Jim Morrison, Gertrude Stein and her lover Alice B. Toklas to name but them – one finds the most extraordinary tombs.

Wandering off the cobbled paths (chemins or allées) my mouth fell open when I came across the large tomb which you can see on the photograph above. It is the largest tomb in the cemetery despite that it is easily missed.

It is the tomb of just one woman. She is the Russian Baroness Elisabeta Alexandrovna Stroganova. Born in Russia in February1779 (the exact day is disputed but it was between the third and the fifth), she died in Paris on March 27, 1818.

In September 1795 she married Count Nikolai Nikitich Demidov. She was just 16 years old. The couple had two children – Pavel born in 1798 and Anatoly born in 1812. (Pavel died in 1840 and Anatoly in 1869.)

Baroness Stroganova aged 15

The above  painting of her was done on her 15th birthday, in other words in the year before her marriage. The painter is French artist Jean-Louis Voille (1774-1803 or 1805) and who gone to Russia and had become the court painter of Grand Duke Pavel Petrovich who would rule Russia as Emperor Paul 1. Voille returned to France in 1793, but returned to Saint Petersburg in 1801 and died there in 1806. Most of his paintings are on display in Russian museums. So is this painting of the 15-year-old Baroness Stroganova.

The Baroness’s husband, Nikolai Demidov, became a diplomat and was stationed in Paris. Here in Paris, the couple became staunch admirers of Napolèon Bonaparte (Napolèon 1, Emperor of France.) When France and Russia went to war, the Demidovs had to leave Paris for Rome, and then returned to Russia in 1812. They settled in Moscow.

The marriage was all but happy and soon after Anatoly’s birth in 1812, the Baroness returned to France and settled down in Paris. She was 33 years old. When she died in 1818 she was just 39 years old and described as beautiful, lively and witty.

I hope you will find her tomb when you visit the cemetery.

The cemetery was the idea of Napolèon 1 and the first bodies were buried there in 1904. At 44 hectares (110 acres) it is Paris’s largest cemetery. One million people lie buried there and this does not count the ashes resting in the cemetery’s columbarium.

In honor of Napolèon I add here a photo of a tomb which is a replica of that of Napolèon in Les Invalides. This replica bears no name only the date 1887. (It is beside that of the Baroness.)

A replica of Napoleon's tomb

 

 

 

Marilyn Z. Tomlins

One Response to “Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris … the largest tomb … Baroness Stroganova …”

  1. 1
    Staying in Paris Says:

    […] Even if you don’t stay here it will give you a good idea of what you can find. Every time I have been to Paris I’ve stayed in a hotel. Relatively speaking hotels are cheap in Fr…You stay in a boring room where the only clue you are in Paris is the pictures on the wall. And […]

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