Pavel Mikhailovich Tretyakov, who, as it is known, preferred to have works by contemporary artists in his collection, acquired this portrait in 1870, which speaks of his rare artistic intuition. Painted shortly before the artist’s last departure to Italy, the portrait bears purely external features of Romanticism: the edges of the white shirt flapped out like bird wings, his messy curled hair, a tribute to the Oriental mania – an arkhalig-robe. But the corners of his mouth, folded into an amiable smile, hide bitterness and sadness, and the gaze is filled with anxiety and pent up agitation. Kiprensky used to paint his numerous portraits, and they were almost always a composite image of the secular Russia of the time, with passion and enthusiasm. He often opted for a neutral background, which, in his opinion, would not distract the viewer from the model. The small size of the cabinet portrait allows to peer into the face of the painter, who is presented here not so much as a creator, but as a man of his time who survived the ups and downs. The colour saturation of the clothes does not distract from the model’s face, which is painted with old-school masters’ skill, no wonder that K. Batyushkov called him a “van Dyck’s student”.
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