Skip to main content
Cover for The Empress of Art

The Empress of Art

Susan Jaques


List Price: 35.00*
* Individual store prices may vary.

Other Editions of This Title:
Paperback (6/13/2017)


This is an art-oriented biograph of the mighty Catherine the Great, who rose from seemingly innocuous beginnings. A German princess who married a decadent and lazy Russian prince, she mobilized support amongst the nobles, playing off of her husband's increasing corruption and abuse of power. She then staged a coup that ended with him being strangled with his own scarf in the halls of the palace, and she being crowned the Empress of Russia. Intelligent and determined, Catherine modeled herself off of her grandfather in-law, Peter the Great, and sought to further modernize and westernize Russia. She felt that the best way to do this was through a ravenous acquisition of art, which Catherine often used as a form of diplomacy with other powers throughout Europe. She was a self-proclaimed "glutton for art" and she would be responsible for the creation of the Hermitage, one of the largest museums in the world, second only to the Louvre. Catherine also spearheaded the further expansion of St. Petersburg, and the magnificent architectural wonder the city became is largely her doing.

Praise For The Empress of Art

A well-researched biography. The author provides a unique perspective on the woman who "transformed Russia from a northern backwater to global superpower." An intriguing biography of a ruler whose ruthlessness encompassed art.

Jaques portrays Catherine II of Russia, founder of the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, as a shrewd investor in this considerate biography of the art-obsessed monarch. The ambitious, German-born empress remains a rich source of material. The Hermitage marked its 250th anniversary in 2014, and as Jaques shows, it stands as a fitting testimonial to its visionary founder.

An absorbing account of a fascinating figure and her legacy

Readers of biography, art history and collecting, Russian history, and 18th-century world history will enjoy this book. Lovers of opulence will drool over Catherine’s lifestyle.

What a wonderful book this is for art lovers of every stripe.
— Annalyn Swan, Pulitzer prize-winning co-author of DE KOONING: An American Master

Susan Jaques has produced an informative,
accessible guide to the fascinating mosaic of America’s art musems. Chock full
of history, beautifully descriptive and always engaging, this work will
introduce art loves (and art lovers to be) to many undiscovered riches.
— Dewey Blanton, Director, American Association of Museums

Pegasus Books, 9781605989723, 384pp.

Publication Date: April 4, 2016

About the Author

Susan Jaques is a journalist specializing in art. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA. She is the author of A Love for the Beautiful: Discovering America's Hidden Art Museums and lives in Los Angeles, California, where she's a gallery docent at the J. Paul Getty Museum.