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Portrait of the Polish king Stanislaw II August (Poniatowski)

Painting, 1797, 86.5×101.5 cm

Description of the artwork «Portrait of the Polish king Stanislaw II August (Poniatowski)»

Previously mistakenly believed that the person depicted in the painting Vigee-Lebrun, is a writer and statesman of Catherine the great Fedor Golovkin. Attribution of 1929, which is now considered indisputable (owned by S. O. Gilyarov), argues that this portrait of Stanislaw II August Poniatowski.

The artist Elizabeth Vigee-Lebrun, despite the "easy" brush, was the "heavy hand". Some of the Royal personages who had to portray, and ended his days in shame or tragedy.

So, the wife of Louis XVI Marie-Antoinette, which Vigee-Lebrun repeatedly wrote and which was friendly, was executed during the French revolution; she was the last Queen of France, later this title was abolished. But Marie Antoinette was not the only conventional "black list of the last monarchs" Vigee-Lebrun. Stanisław August II Poniatowski, whose portrait she created in 1797, the year during your stay in St. Petersburg, had become the last king of Poland (1764-m Polish Sejm unanimously elected him king, and in 1795, after the occupation of Warsaw Suvorov and 2nd partition of Poland, Poniatowski was compelled to abdicate and flee).

Of course, this is just a coincidence and not a mystic. Moreover, Poniatowski, by the time this portrait has ceased to be king, so that no "curse Vigee-Lebrun" did not exist. But the mystic nature of Elizabeth Vigee-Lebrun was not alien. In her memoirs she boasted that remarkably able to predict events just by looking at a person. And one of the cases, these predictions related both to the times of stanisław August Poniatowski. Supposedly, looking at him and noticing that the left eye of the king in exile looks more dim than the right, Vigee-Lebrun prophesied for him a quick death. And Poniatowski, indeed, a few days later broke the strike.

In this portrait Stanislaw Poniatowski about 65 years. All the major events of his turbulent life were left far behind. However, unlike Marie Antoinette, after the overthrow of the throne, he was not executed. But he had to spend his days away from the homeland, in Russia, a country which, together with Prussia was responsible for the 2nd partition of Poland, which Poniatowski resisted as long as I could.

In General, Elizabeth Vigee-Lebrun was distinguished by a highly idealizing style of writing, and the desire to flatter the model affected the scenic quality of the products is not the best way. However, "Portrait of Poniatowski" too suffers from embellishment or sentimentality; rather it is one of the best male portraits Vigee-Lebrun.

We see before us is older and probably disillusioned man. He was a Bon vivant and a Bon vivant [FR. bon vivant – sybarite, lit. "living well"]. However, the intervention of history changed the nature Poniatowski – he became more reserved and pensive. And even though his posture and raised his chin to give him a kind of tribal pride, "the Polish gentry ambition", in the expression of his eyes Vigee-Lebrun well manages to convey arose under the circumstances of uncertainty and restrained sadness.

Author: Anna Yesterday
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About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Portrait

Style of art: Rococo

Technique: Oil

Materials: Canvas

Date of creation: 1797

Size: 86.5×101.5 cm

Artwork in selections: 1 selection