Maria Pavlovna was born in St. Petersburg on 16 February 1786 and was the daughter of Paul I of Russia and his second wife, Sophie Dorothea of Wurttemberg.
As a child, Maria Pavlovna’s features were disfigured after a pioneering application of the smallpox vaccine and she was not regarded as a beauty. Maria Pavlovna’s grandmother, Catherine the Great, often said it would’ve been better if she had been born a male, although she was impressed with her granddaughter’s musical talents. Maria Pavlovna was an accomplished pianist and her musical teacher was the Italian composer Giuseppe Sarti.
On 3 August 1804, Maria Pavlovna married Charles Frederick, Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, in St. Petersburg and they eventually moved to Weimar. Charles Frederick and Maria Pavlovna seemed content with their married life and they had four children, two boys and two girls.
Maria Pavlovna became a well respected figure in Weimar, especially for her patronage of the arts and sciences, and she counted the poets, artists and musicians, as her acquaintances. Maria Pavlovna invited Franz Liszt to the court where he was appointed kapellmeister extraordinaire in 1842 and remained until after Maria Pavlovna’s death. Sadly, Maria Pavlovna was growing increasingly deaf which severely hampered her enjoyments of Liszt’s work.
Maria Pavlovna withdrew from public life in 1853 after the death of her husband, although she did travel to Russia for the coronation of her nephew, Alexander II, in 1855.
Name: Maria Pavlovna
House (birth): House of Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov
House (marriage): House of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach
Father: Paul I of Russia
Mother: Sophie Dorothea of Wurttemberg
Born: 16 Feb 1786
Died: 23 Jun 1859
Spouse: Charles Frederick, Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach
Grand Duchess of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach
14 Jun 1828 – 08 Jul 1853