Alexander I and 1812


This album is a two-volume collection of photo-tint prints published by the Obrazovanie (Education) association in 1911 to mark the centenary of the year 1812, when the Russians defeated the invasion by the Grande Armée of the French emperor Napoleon. The album focuses on the reign of Alexander I (1777‒1825), grandson of Catherine the Great, who was tsar of Russia from 1801 to 1825. Under Alexander’s leadership, in 1805 Russia joined the European coalition against Napoleon, but after a series of military defeats it was forced to sign the Treaty of Tilsit with the French in 1807. Napoleon broke the treaty by invading Russia. Alexander counterattacked and ultimately drove the French back to Paris, which the Russian army occupied in April 1814. The events of 1812 are celebrated in Russian culture, notably in Leo Tolstoy’s novel War and Peace, and in the 1812 Overture of Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky. Volume one of this work consists mainly of portraits of Alexander, his wife the Empress Elizaveta, and notables of the Russian court, government, and army. Volume two contains mainly of scenes from important battles of Alexander’s reign, including Austerlitz, Jena, Vitebsk, Smolensk, and Borodino, and views of the burning of Moscow in September 1812. The album is owned by the State Public Historical Library in Moscow.

Last updated: December 7, 2016