The portrait is elegant and slightly theatrical, which is no coincidence: Afanasy Fyodorovich Shishmarev (? –1876) was a theater-goer and amateur gardener. The young man posed at his estate in Novaya Derevnya near St. Petersburg, where Kiprensky spent his summer, as he mentioned in a letter to a friend: “I spent my summer quite happily! I lived at Shishmarev’s dacha <...>, there was a new wooden studio in the garden, and I worked there in no small way”. The traditions of Russian Romanticism allowed the artist to depict his model “in nature’s lap”, where the wooden fence and daisies emphasise the “rustic nature” of the landscape. Shishmarev is clearly posing, depicted in a “Russian shirt” as Kiprensky called it in another letter. The portrait’s elegance semicircular top, darkening sky and lovely flowers – everything is perceived as a theatrical decoration for a pastoral production.
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