period: Catherine the Great

Catherine the Great

Empress Catherine II, Catherine the Great, (1729–1796) was born in Pomerania, Germany as Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg. She reigned as Empress of Russia from 1762, following the assassination of her husband Peter III, until her death. Under her direct auspices the Russian Empire expanded, improved its administration, and continued to modernise along Western European lines. Catherine’s rule re-vitalised Russia, which grew stronger than ever and became recognised as one of the great powers of Europe. She had successes in foreign policy – including the annexation of the Crimea in 1783 – and oversaw sometimes brutal reprisals in the wake of rebellion.

Throughout her long reign she took many lovers, often elevating them to high positions for as long as they held her interest, and then pensioning them off with large estates and gifts of serfs – one was placed on the throne of Poland in 1764, another received 50,000 rubles, a pension of 5,000 rubles, and 4,000 peasants in the Ukraine after being dismissed in 1777. After her affair with her lover and capable adviser Grigori Alexandrovich Potemkin ended in 1776, he allegedly selected a candidate-lover for her who had the physical beauty and mental faculties to hold her interest. The last of her lovers, Prince Zubov, was 40 years her junior. Her sexual independence led to many of the legends about her.

The movies

O Theos agapaei to haviari (2012): This movie also known as God Loves Caviar is based on the story of Ioannis Varvakis who rose from being a pirate to become an international caviar millionaire with the ear of Catherine the Great of Russia (Catherine Deneuve) and ultimately a Greece national hero in the struggle for independence. Argyro Kouroupou was the makeup artist advisor; Thibault Vabre was the makeup artist for Catherine Deneuve.

Great Catherine (1968): The tagline says it all: ‘By day she was Catherine the Queen. By night she was Catherine the Great.’ Jeanne Moreau played Catherine. Bill Lodge was the makeup artist.

La tempesta (1958): Featured Viveca Lindfors as Catherine. Otello Fava was the makeup artist.

Münchhausen (1943): Featuring Brigitte Horney as Catherine. Coming soon…

Le joueur d’échecs (1938): Featured Françoise Rosay as Catherine. No makeup credits given.