He came from a noble family of the 3rd rank from the kingdom of Kakheti, eastern Georgia. For years, Chavchavadze served as adjutant-general to Erekle II, king of Kartli and Kakheti. He was also Governor-General of the Qazakh province.
He was involved in the negotiations that led to the 1783 Treaty of Georgievsk with Russia, placing the Georgian kingdom under the protection of Tsarina Catherine II. In 1784, Prince Chavchavadze was appointed as an ambassador to St Petersburg. He was welcomed in Russia, and Empress Catherine became a godmother at the baptism of his Petersburg-born son, Alexander, the future poet and general.
During his tenure as ambassador, Garsevan urged the Russian government to timely fulfill the promise of protection, but Georgia was left without any assistance when, in 1795, Persia attacked and devastated the country after Erekle's refusal to terminate his ties with Russia. In spite of many leading Georgian politicians became disillusioned in Russia, Chavchavadze still seconded the alliance with the co-religionist power, and supported Giorgi XII’s renewed quest for the Russian protection in 1799.
The negotiations in St Petersburg were still in process, when the king died in 1800, and the Russian government declared the annexation of Georgia in 1801, removing the Georgian Bagrationi Dynasty from the throne. Shocked by this decision, Prince Chavchavadze wrote to his relatives in Tbilisi, that the Russians "not fulfilled [even] one of King Giorgi's requirements. They have abolished our kingdom... No country has ever been so humiliated as Georgia."  In September 1801 he presented a formal note of protest against the annexation to the Russian Vice Chancellor Prince Alexander Kurakin.
Back in Georgia, he fruitlessly attempted to lobby for the preservation of a degree of internal autonomy for his native country. He remained in opposition to the Russian rule throughout the following years, prompting the new administration of Georgia to deport him to Russia in 1805. Not allowed to return to his homeland, Chavchavadze settled in St. Petersburg. He died there in 1811, and was buried at Alexander Nevsky Lavra.
- Lang, DM (1962), A Modern History of Georgia, London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, p. 38
- Cornell, SE (2001) Small Nations and Great Powers: A Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict in the Caucasus, Routledge (UK), ISBN 0-7007-1162-7, p. 145
- Lang, DM (1957), The Last Years of the Georgian Monarchy: 1658-1832, New York: Columbia University Press, pp. 242, 251
- Suny, RG (1994), The Making of the Georgian Nation: 2nd edition, Indiana University Press, ISBN 0-253-20915-3, p. 59
- Думин С. В., Чиковани Ю. К. Дворянские роды Российской империи. — М.: Ликоминвест", 1998. — Т. 4
- თავადი ჭავჭავაძეები. ჩიქოვანი, ი. თბ.: არტანუჯი, 2002
- Государственный музей искусств Грузинской ССр. — М.: «Государственное издательство изобразительного искусства», 1960.