in gold, diamonds and enamel, the central finely painted oval portrait of the Saint seated and facing to dexter within an openwork gold border and row of single old mine-cut diamonds, the arms of the cross and matching riband carrier also set with diamonds of various sizes, the reverse with central painted enamel of eagles' eyrie on tower, motto Æquant Munia Comparis above, apparently unsigned and unmarked
A German Princely Family, by descent.
The Order of St. Catherine was created by Peter the Great on the occasion of his marriage in 1714. His wife, later to become Catherine I, was the first holder of the new Order designed exclusively for ladies.
Lesser Crosses were conferred upon noble members of the Suite of the Empress. The Order was a highly prestigious honour, often recognising special achievement, charitable work or acts of philanthropy.
The original recipient of the present example is not definitely known, although Princess Carolyne zu Sayn-Wittgenstein (1819-1887) has been suggested. Following the failure of her marriage to Prince Nikolaus zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Ludwigsburg, the Princess famously enjoyed a romance with the virtuoso pianist and composer Franz Liszt. The couple met in Kiev in 1847 when 'Lisztomania' was at its height and were invited to Weimar by Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, the Emperor's sister and celebrated patroness of the arts.
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