From the serfs of count Sheremetev.
He studied portrait painting by foreign artists, were famous in the middle of the XVIII century.
By order of Empress Elizabeth to him was given "the teaching of the art" court singers: A. P. Losenko (then a former Professor and Director of the Academy of fine arts), K. I. Golovachevsky (inspector of the Academy of art.), I. I. Sanlucar (Sablukov Ivan Semenovich?) (academician).
Worked in Moscow, St. Petersburg, in the suburbs — Ostankino, Kuskovo.
The author of a number of excellent ceremonial and intimate portraits.
The fate of this remarkable painter dramatic. Serf of count P. B. Sheremetev — one of the richest men of his time, owner of the famous fountain house (St. Petersburg) and Kuskovo near Moscow
Life Argunov had to perform many household duties. Was the ruler of the houses (actually palaces) P. B. Sheremeteva first in St. Petersburg, then in Moscow.
Of course, unlike many Russian artists, Argunov never know the needs, but could it be replaced free? All his life he felt the duality of his position: on the one hand — a recognized artist, on the other — disenfranchised slave.
But already in the 1750s the authority Argunov was so great that his Studio sent the disciples "sleeping with the voice" the singers of the court chapel A. LOSENKO, K. I. Golovachevsky and Sablukov, future academics painting.
Apparently, in 1746-47. Argunov studied with G.-H. GROOT, court painter to the Empress Elizabeth . In any case, in 1747, together with the Groote young artist performs icons for the Church of the Great Tsarskoye Selo Palace.
Icons Argunov wrote later. But his main vocation was the portrait.
In 1750, the artist completes the front "Portrait of Prince Ivan Lobanov-Rostov" in 1754-m paired him "Portrait of Princess E. Lobanov-Rostov". Especially good portrait of the Princess. He is somewhat harsh on the execution of that, however, it is quite natural for a young artist, when the desire for thoroughness and completeness of execution is not connected with freedom and ease. However, this stiffness combined with the built in shades of cool colors color (blue with silver patterns dress, powdered hair, ermine mantle) gives a portrait of a kind of fragile beauty.
In the future Argunov will write softer and "technically perfect", but will remain committed to the accurate and clear picture, exquisitely restrained color and calm, carefully-friendly attitude to their models.
So calm and friendly he appears to us in the Argunov-portrait (C. 1760), the exhibition belt, he exhibited as "portrait of an unknown sculptor".
In the portraits of the spouses K. A. and H. M. Khripunova (1757), people close to the family sheremetyevy and probably good friends of the artist, it creates a new for Russia type of intimate (chamber) of the portrait. The husband is pictured with the newspaper, the wife of the book. And it says right on the education of a married couple: a woman reading in Russia in the middle of the XVIII century are a rarity.
Of course, Argun repeatedly painted portraits of the Sheremetev family ("Portrait of count P. B. Sheremetev" and paired him "Portrait of Countess V. A. Sheremeteva", etc.). Among them is the "Portrait of V. P .Sheremetevoy", which shows the youngest daughter of Peter B., a charming round-faced girl in a dress embroidered with flowers.
The artist wrote and "historical" portraits of ancestors of the owners of the field Marshal B. P. Sheremetev, Prince A. M. Cherkassky. Wrote and empresses — Elizabeth and Catherine II. But the more famous "Portrait of Kalmyk Annushka" (1767). My favorite pupil V. A. Sheremeteva, lovely girl, holding an engraved portrait of the deceased already mistress. In the middle of the XVIII century. among the Russian aristocracy was kalmychat fashion as before — on arapchat. In 1768, Argunov creates one of his best works - "Portrait of Tolstoy." A middle-aged woman with an intelligent calm face is depicted with her knitting in her hands, which makes surprisingly intimate note to the front on the type of portrait.
1760-ies — the heyday of creativity Argunova. But at the end of their P. B. Sheremetev moved to Moscow, and the artist appoints the Manager its Millionth home in St. Petersburg, which imposes on Argunova a lot of new responsibilities.
In the 1770 — 80s rr. he writes a little, but at this time it appears perhaps the most famous work — "Portrait of an unknown peasant woman in Russian costume" (1784)— the first of its kind in Russian art. Probably pictured is really a woman of the common people, possibly a nurse, ethnographically accurate costume of a peasant Moscow province (not an actress in the theater "parade" costume, as did some researchers).
In 1788 the town of Argun appointed Manager of the Moscow house of Sheremetevs. In Moscow, he does not work as an artist. Engaged in economic Affairs. Teaching his sons (Paul — the architect, Nicholas — a painter, Jacob painter and graphic artist). Participates in the construction of the famous Palace-theater in Ostankino (architect P. I. Argunov - son).