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Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Demidoff

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DEMIDOFF, a Russian family honourably distinguished in various ways in the history of their country.

I. DEMIDOFF, NIKITA, the founder of the family, originally a blacksmith serf, was born about 1665. His skill in the manufacture of arms won him notoriety and fortune ; and an iron foundry which he established for the Government became another source of wealth to him. Peter the Great, with whom he was a favourite, ennobled him in 1720.

II. Demidoff, Akinfij, son of the former, greatly increased the wealth he had inherited by the discovery (along with his son) of gold, silver, and copper mines, which they worked with permission of the Government for their own profit. He died about 1740.

III. DEMIDOFF, PAUL GRIGORJEVICH, nephew of the preceding (born in 1738, died in 1821), was a great traveller, and devoted himself to scientific studies, the prosecution of which among his countrymen he encouraged by the estab lishment of professorships, lyceums, and museums. He founded the annual prize of 5000 roubles, adjudged by the Academy of Sciences to the author of the most valu able contribution to Russian literature.

IV. Demidoff, Nikolay Nikitich, nephew of the preceding, was born in 1774, and died at Florence in 1828. During the invasion of Napoleon he commanded a regiment equipped at his own expense. He also greatly increased his resources as a capitalist by successful mining operations, and like his uncle used his wealth to multiply facilities for the scientific culture of the inhabitants of Moscow. The erection of four bridges at St Petersburg was mainly due to his liberality. In 1830 a collection of his pam phlets, Opuscules d Economic Politique et Privee, was pub lished at Paris.

V. DEMIDOFF, ANATOLI, son of Paul, was born at Florence in 1812, and died at Paris in 1870. Educated in France, his life was chiefly spent in that country and in Italy. After his marriage with the daughter of Jerome Bonaparte, he lost for a time the favour of the Emperor Nicholas on account of provision having been made in the contract for the education of his children as Roman Catholics. During the Crimean war he was a member of the Russian diplomatic staff at Vienna. Like other mem bers of his house, he expended large sums to promote education and to ameliorate the physical condition of his fellows. His munificence as a patron of art gave him European celebrity. The superb work, Voyage dans la Russie meridionals et la Crimee, par la Hongrie, la Valachie, et la Moldavie> was conjointly written and illustrated by him and the French scholars and artists who accompanied him. It has been translated into several European lan guages ; the English version was published in 1853.