Martin Ferdinand
Quadal

Russia • 1736−1808

Biography and information

Martin Ferdinand Quadal (1736 Niemtschitz, Moravia, Czech: Němčice — 1808 St. Petersburg) studied in Vienna and at the Paris Academy of Painting and Sculpture (in 1767, he was a student of F. Boucher). He worked and exhibited in London (1772—1773), Dublin (1779), in Rome and Naples (1780), in Vienna (1787), in England again (1791—1793), in Holland (1794), in Hamburg (1796). Since 1797, at the invitation of Emperor Paul I, he lived and worked in St. Petersburg. The artist was a member of the Royal Academy of London, the Society of British Artists, the St. Petersburg Imperial Academy of Arts (since 1804).

This Czech (Moravian) painter was famous in the 18th century. He studied in Vienna and at the Paris Academy of Painting and Sculpture (in 1767, he was a student of F. Boucher). His classmate was Jacques-Louis David. He worked and exhibited in London (1772—1773), Dublin (1779), in Rome and Naples (1780), in Vienna (1787), in England again (1791—1793), in Holland (1794), in Hamburg (1796). Martin Ferdinand Quadal worked at the courts of many European monarchs. Researchers believe that in this way the future Emperor Paul became acquainted with the works of this artist, which was the reason for Quadal’s invitation to Russia. Since 1797, at the invitation of Emperor Paul I, he lived and worked in St. Petersburg. Quadal was present at the coronation of the most mysterious Russian monarch Paul I, which took place on 5 April 1797 in the Assumption Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin. He painted the Coronation of Paul I and Maria Feodorovna painting. The M. F. Quadal’s painting depicts one of the brightest moments of the ceremony: Emperor Paul I took the Great Imperial Crown off his head and touches it to the Empress’s head.

Apart of purely historical value, the painting is of artistic interest, being a group portrait of the royal family and the first persons of the state. Not all participants in the ceremony were “personified” by the researchers. Along with the central subjects — the Emperor and his wife, both Great Princes, Metropolitan Plato — Grand Duchess Elizabeth Alexeievna, Grand Duchess Alexandra Pavlovna, Prince N. I. Saltykov, Count F. V. Rostopchin and some others are also easily recognizable, thanks to the undoubted portrait resemblance. Many of the figures in the picture can be identified by the role they played during the ceremony (Prince A. A. Bezborodko presented the Grand Imperial Crown on a red saffron pillow, Prince N. B. Yusupov was Supreme Marshal of the ceremony, Grand Duchess Elena and Maria Pavlovna, Grand Duchess Anna Feodorovna, etc.). It is known that when M. F. Quadal painted The Coronation of Paul I and Maria Feodorovna, he used already made portraits of the ceremony actors from the collection of the State Hermitage.

In 1804, a “picture hut” was set up on Nevsky Prospekt, the first M. F. Quadal’s solo exhibition in Russia, where the public saw “an excellent painting in figures representing the coronation of His Imperial Majesty Emperor Paul I, which has never been painted in Russia before”. This is the only pictorial evidence of the coronation remained unclaimed by the customer, that is, Paul himself. Although it was at that time that the art collection of his new imperial residence, Mikhailovsky Castle, was being formed. Perhaps there is someone in the picture whom Paul I really did not want to see!

After Quadal’s death, Prince Kurakin bought the canvas for his art gallery, and it found itself in his Saratov estate, Nadezhdino. And at the end of the 19th century, the painting got to the A. N. Radishchev Saratov Art Museum, being apparently the only work of the famous court painter in Russia. In 2000, it was sent for restoration to the Russian Museum, where it is to this day. It takes active part at exhibitions dedicated to the Pauline era. Quadal was a member of the Royal Academy of London, the Society of Artists of Great Britain, and the St. Petersburg Imperial Academy of Arts (since 1804).

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