A PORTRAIT OF MIKHAIL ILLARIONOVICH KUTUZOV, PRINCE OF SMOLENSK (1745-1813)
After George Dawe, Russian School
Signed with initials G B, oil on canvas. The portrait is after that by George Dawe which hangs in the Hall of the Field Marshalls in the Winter Palace, St. Petersburg. Scion of an ancient and noble family, Kutuzov served all his life as a soldier, first in Poland and then in the Crimea where in 1774 he received his first famous wound, in the right eye, and was awarded the order of St. George, Fourth Class. Treated for his wound in Vienna, he met Frederick the Great and Field Marshall Laudon. After 1776 he was attached to the staff of General Suvorov, who held him in high esteem. He received another wound serving at the battle of Ochakov in 1778. After the battle ofjassy against the Ottomans, Kutuzov was sent as a special envoy by Catherine to Constantinople. Paul sent him on various diplomatic missions to Berlin and conferred upon him the Order of St. Andrew in 1800. At the accession of Alexander I he was nominated military governor of St. Petersburg but in 1802 retired to his country estate in Volhynia. He once more assumed leadership of the army in the war of 1805 but his advice was not taken and the campaign ended in the disaster of Austerlitz where Kutuzov received another wound in his cheek. Disgraced as a result of these developments he was nominated governor first of Kiev and then of Vilna. In 1811 for a successful diplomatic mission which brought peace with the Ottomans, he was created a count. In 1812 Alexander, against his personal inclination, but bowing to public opinion, appointed him commander-in-chief of the Russian army and the battle of Borodino and other actions of the Napoleonic campaign are associated with his name. For his triumph he received successively the dignity of a Prince, with the title of Serene Highness, a field marshalls baton, the order of St. George First Class and the name of Smolensky. Kutuzov died in 1813 and was laid to rest in the Kazan Cathedral in St. Petersburg. Kutuzov was very much a Russian type. He was deeply responsive to the Orthodox Tradition. He possessed the obstinacy of passive resistance combined with unshakeable bravery in battle. A great diplomat, he had the gift of inspiring confidence and loyalty in his subordinates. He was always much more in control of a situation than he affected.to be.