Russian nobility

Владимир  Лукич Боровиковский - Портрет князя Александра Борисовича Куракина в одеянии кавалера Мальтийского ордена (слева на заднем плане - бюст Павла I)

Vladimir Lukich Borovikovsky - Portrait of Prince Alexander Borisovich Kurakin (with a bust of Paul I in the background)

As Ambassador in Paris, Kurakin was known for two political acts: taking an active part in the arrangements for the signing of the Treaty of Tilsit, and warning the Tsar about the upcoming war with the French.

In Paris’ higher circles, Kurakin was famously referred to as a “diamond prince”, due to magnificence and richness of his costumes. Interestingly, it was one of these costumes that actually saved his life during a fire that happened during a ball given by Schwarzenberg, the Austrian ambassador on 1 July 1810. While escorting the women out of the blazing hall, he fell to the ground and was trampled by the panicking crowd, but his richly decorated coat protected him from the worst of the intense heat. Nevertheless, he was still badly burned and was confined to bed for several months.

He is also credited with introducing Russian-style service à la russe to France, where it replaced the previous service à la française. [more]