Exhibit Author: SM
Catherine came to the throne in a way that did not make her legitimacy easy to prove. Because Catherine was not actually the heir to the throne, and there was suspicion around the death of her husband, the former tzar, Catherine needed to prove her right to the throne through reasons that most leaders at this time did not have to provide. One very powerful method that Catherine used to reinforce her legitimacy was portraiture. Through this type of source, which in the time before photography was often the only image the people of Russia would have of their ruler, Catherine could manipulate her image to convey exactly what she wished people to view her as.
In Catherine’s portraits, she depicts herself as a successful ruler, and one that is loved by her people. Instead of a birth right to the throne, she is the tsarina due to the fact that she is the most capable ruler of her country. She is depicted as a strong ruler, providing her people with life’s necessities. Often, these portraits also show favor from the heavens, whether in the form of Peter the Great or of God himself.