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One of the major portrait painters in the late 18th to the early 19th centuries, he was the first painter in Russia to develop an intimate portrait typical for sentimentalism, which presented a person against a natural or domestic background, such as E. N. Arsenyeva painted in the second half of 1790s and exhibited in the State Russian Museum, Catherine II Walking in the Park of Tsarskoe Selo and M. I. Lopukhina painted in 1794 and 1797, respectively, both exhibited at the State Tretyakov Gallery.
This remarkable work of art is the most brilliant example of a portraiture life at its complete maturity. The representative of the earls’ origin, the sister of F.M. Tolstoy is depicted here. Mary was eighteen and she had been recently married to 28- year old S. Lopukhin.
The artist used the traditional method of view portrait – surrounding of the character by subjects, which help to reveal her image. Borovikovsky’s aim was to capture the sitter’s vitality and personal traits of her character. The main theme of the portrait is the single entity of the man and nature, which is distinctive for sentimentalism.
Lopukhina is placed against the landscape background, which is rather conditional and decorative, but the typical characteristics of the russian landscape are tracked here – the trunks of birches, the rye’s ears and cornflowes.
The landscape blends with the image of Lopukhina – the twist of her figure repeats the bowed ears, white birches are reflected in her dress, blue cornflowers accentuate her silk belt and the delicacy of lilac shawl reminds the drooped buds of roses. She is slightly coquetisch in her twist, extremely independent and looks at us with some challenge. But this light gliding at her young face, flying curls and tenderly outlined lips make her romantic, lyrical and trustful.
The picture is arranged symmetrically in a vertical format. Her posture is free. Mary looks natural and informal. Her eyes are wonderful- we can see the firm greenery of a grape. There is some aloofness or even hostility in them.
The brilliant colour scheme is subtle, where green, blue and pink predominate. The painter combined form and colour into harmonious unity, because the coloures are restful, soft and delicate.
The artist managed to render the personality of this beautiful woman in an authentic way, the richness of the spiritual life of the model, showed deep feelings and unusual poetry. Borovikovsky endowed her with the nobility of the human countenance and form. This exquisite piece of painting was admired by contemporaries. And now it is highly rated by the posterity.
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