Aurora Karamzina

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Portrait by Karl Brullov, 1837

Eva Aurora Charlotta Karamzina (née Stjernvall) (1 August 1808 - 13 May 1902), was a Finnish-Swede philanthropist. Her better-known names are Princess Aurora Demidova and Aurora Karamzina, titles that were acquired after her first and second marriages, respectively.

Early life[edit]

Karamzina was born in Ulvila (Ulvsby), in Saaren Kartano, Finland. She was the daughter of Carl Johan Stjernvall (1764–1815) and Baroness Eva Gustava von Willebrand (1781–1844). Her father was a high official in the Grand Duchy of Finland and became the First Governor of the Viipuri Province in 1812. Von Willebrand was a distant niece of Gustav I of Sweden.[1] Following Stjernvall's death in 1815, the Baroness remarried and became the wife of Finland's Procurator, Carl Johan Walleen.

Karamzina had an older brother, Emil Stjernvall Walleen (1806–1890) who became a Finnish Minister of State and a Baron. Karamzina also had two sisters, Emilia (1811-1846) and Alexandra "Aline" (1812-1851). Emilia married Vladimir Musin-Pushkin while Alexandra became the second wife of José Maurício Correia Henriques, 1st Count de Seisal. Karamzina also had three half-brothers from her mother's second marriage, however, little is known about them.

Life[edit]

The Hakasalmi manor house was in the centre of Helsinki where Aurora Karamzina lived most of her life. Now a museum

Aurora was appointed as a lady-in-waiting to Empress Alexandra Fedorovna the elder (consort to Tsar Nicholas I of Russia), and a lady of the bedchamber of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna the younger and Empress Maria Feodorovna. She was made a dame of the Order of Saint Catherine, the highest honour for ladies in Imperial Russia. Evgeny Baratynsky dedicated a poem to her, both in Russian and French ("Go and breathe inspiration into us, you the namesake of dawn... for whom you will become the sun of happiness?"), as he did to her sister Countess Emilia.

In 1836, she married Pavel Nikolayevich Demidov (1798 - 1840).[2] In 1846, after Demidov's death, she remarried to Andrei Karamzin.[3] After the death of Aurora's second husband, she occupied herself with the practical matters of her Järvenperä manor in Espoo, Finland and with her growing interest in charity. Karamzina used the immense wealth inherited from her first husband) to create benevolent institutions in Helsinki, such as schools, public kitchens and the Deaconess Institution of Helsinki. She was considered a great benefactor in many cities such as Saint Petersburg and Florence.[4]

Karamzina's only child was Pavel Pavlovich Demidov (9 October 1839 – 26 January 1885). In 1870, Pavel succeeded his childless uncle, Anatoly Nikolaievich Demidov, as the 2nd Prince of San Donato.

Her granddaughter and namesake Princess Aurora Pavlovna Demidova married Arsen Karađorđević, Prince of Serbia and became the mother of the Yugoslav regent, Prince Paul of Yugoslavia. Demidova's granddaughter is Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia, a politician in Serbia and the mother of actress Catherine Oxenberg.

She died in Helsinki on 13 May 1902.

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