Mikhail Kutuzov: A silver-gilt and niello commemorative snuff box, Yakov Moiseyev, Velikiy Ustyug, circa 1813
- Silver, niello
- width: 9.6cm, 3 3/4 in.
Mikhail Illarionovich Golenishchev-Kutuzov (1745-1813) had already distinguished himself in a long military career, which included significant victories in the Russo-Turkish Wars, when he achieved his greatest glory against Napoleon in the Patriotic War of 1812. Appointed commander-in-chief of the Russian Army in August of that year at the age of nealy 67 years, Kutuzov led his troops in the Battles of Borodino and Maloyaroslavets and vanquished the Grande Armée out of Russia greatly reduced in numbers. Already holding the rank of Field Marshall, he was awarded the title Prince (Knyaz) of Smolensk.
His death on 12 April 1813 was mourned profoundly in Russia, as the present lot attests. He was given laudatory treatment by Tolstoy in War and Peace, and he retains his place in the view of historians as the greatest Russian general after Suvorov, under whom he served.