If nothing else, Paul shared Catherine’s appreciation of porcelain. He visited the Imperial Porcelain Factory when he was ten years old, and from that time porcelain production held an unwavering fascination for him. He took pride in the Imperial Factory and showed it off to visiting monarchs and diplomats.
On Christmas of 1798, the director of the factory, Prince Yusoupoff, presented Paul with an 800-piece service. Known as the Yusoupoff Service, it was decorated with views of ancient Italian towns. Precious porcelain wares were eagerly given and gratefully received within Europe’s lively ‘porcelain diplomacy.’ Paul’s five daughters were married to European princes, and their practical mother Maria Fedorovna saw to it that the young princesses were sent off to Europe with impressive dowries of large porcelain services.
The last Imperial porcelain service of the eighteenth century was made for Paul’s new castle in St. Petersburg. Surrounded by a moat, the impregnable castle was built in 1801 to protect Paul from palace conspiracies. When the porcelain arrived, Paul kissed the beautifully crafted plates in admiration. On the next day, he was murdered in his own bedroom by a group of nobles, having lived in the castle for only forty days.