BEKETOV, Platon. Opisanie v litsakh torzhestva, proiskhodivshego v 1626 godu fevralia 5, pri brakosochetanii gosudaria tsaria i velikogo kniazia Mikhaila Feodorovicha, s gosudaryneiu tsaritseiu Evdokiei Luk’ianovnoi iz roda Streshnenykh.

Moscow, Platon Beketov., 1810

Quarto ( 290 x 209 mm.), 138 pages with 65 engraved plates all hand coloured. Late XIX century half leather, spine in compartments with black morocco lettering piece. A couple of pale spots but a very fine copy.


The scarce first and only edition – ‘rarely seen on the market' (Gennadi) – of this handsomely illustrated account of the wedding of Tsar Mikhail Feodorovich (1596-1645), the first of the House of Romanov, and Empress Evdokia (d.1645), which took place in 1626. Copies with 65 engraved plates are uncommon, most only including 63 or 64, and few are hand-coloured, as here. Each plate reproduces scenes after an original 17th-century manuscript, which, as the preface states, was donated to the library of the State Collegium of Foreign Affairs of the Moscow Archive by the famous scholar A.M. Malinovsky.

The editor and publisher, Platon Petrovich Beketov (1761-1836), was a scholar, bibliophile and head of the Society for the History and Antiquities of Russia. He hoped that Opisanie would be agreeable ‘to all those who love Russian antiquity', especially this period of ‘resurrection' when ‘Russia shook off the foreign yoke'. Indeed, Mikhail's accession in 1613 marked the beginning of Russian expansion and the end of the Time of Troubles, a period of wars, famines and the occupation of Russia by the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, which had begun in 1598, with the death of Fyodor I.

Each plate is accompanied by a short description, printed on the facing page, and depicts a scene from the wedding ceremony. The first shows Mikhail consulting with Patriarch Filaret and with his mother, the nun Martha, concerning his marriage. The last shows the married couple sitting one the right and left respectively, listening to Protopop Maxim talk about the Sacred Scriptures. The remainder show outdoor and indoor scenes – which also provide charming, though a bit stylised, depictions of early 17th-century Moscow – including Mikhail's procession from the Golden Chamber to Evdokia's palace, or meetings between the Tsar and other aristocratic or political figures.

A very handsome work.


Kansas (64 pls, 1 hand-coloured), Columbia, Yale (imperfect), Connecticut, Illinois, Cornell, Getty (65 pls, hand-coloured), NYPL (65 pls. hand-coloured) and Harvard copies recorded in the US. Only BL in the UK.

SK 1801-1825, n.6072; Ostroglazov n.218, Ber.-Shir. pp.36-7: ‘very rare'; Obol'ianinov n.1885; Vereshchagin n.615; Sm.-Sok. n.522; Fekula n.1699 (now at NYPL); Gennadi n.113.