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Portrait of A.S. Pushkin

Painting, 1827, 64.8×56.3 cm

Description of the artwork «Portrait of A.S. Pushkin»

The portrait of Pushkin was written by Orest Kiprensky almost simultaneously with work another outstanding Russian portrait painter, Vasily Tropinin, and is distinguished by greater solemnity and thoroughness in working out the details.

It is a portrait of Pushkin authorship Kiprensky and removed from it engraving Utkina became a kind of "canonical" image of the poet: from this portrait of Pushkin recognized his contemporaries on the streets, he considered the most similar of the existing father of the poet Sergey Lvovich. Finally, Pushkin himself recognized a high level of similarity ("I see myself as in a mirror ..."), however, noted some degree of artistic idealization ("... but this mirror flatters me").

Circumstances of writing "Portrait of A.S.Pushkin"

The portrait of Pushkin was ordered by a close friend of the poet Anton Delvig to Kiprensky who had returned from Italy. The work was carried out in the spring of 1827 in Moscow, in the house of the common acquaintance of Kiprensky and Pushkin, Count Dmitry Sheremetev. In 1831, after the sudden death of Delvig from the "rotten fever" (typhoid), Pushkin, despite significant constraints in funds, bought a portrait to put in his office.

Obviously, for Pushkin, the portrait of Kiprensky had a double memorial value: first, he reminded him of an early friend (“Nobody in the world was closer to Delvig”), and second, he allowed me to hope for his own immortality, quite clearly articulating his hope in a poetic message to Kiprensky: "And I laugh at the grave, gone forever from the bonds of death ..."

Features of the “Portrait of A.S.Pushkin” by Kiprensky

Contemporaries of the poet often describe the "yellow face" when describing his appearance. A similar impression was left by the dark “Arap” skin tone, multiplied by the pallor of overwork and sleepless nights. To harmonize color, Kiprensky writes Pushkin on a yellow-green background and additionally highlights the area around the poet’s head, turning it into a nimbus. The golden highlights on the right side of the face resemble the glow of candles and heighten the sense of solemnity.

A blanket thrown over a shoulder or a cloak from a red-green tartan not only makes the overall coloring more dynamic, but is also considered a picturesque reference to Lord Byron, a Romantic poet of Scottish origin, who at certain intervals of biographies was an idol for both Pushkin and Kiprensky (the artist terribly regretted that he missed Byron a bit in Rome).

The response of Karl Bryullov (retold from the words of Taras Shevchenko) that Kiprensky depicted not a poet, but "Some dandy".

Notes on composition and posture

The composition of the waist portrait with the figure of Genius in the background leaves an impression of surprising harmonic completeness, but the pose in which Pushkin is depicted provoked controversy. Those who knew the poet personally recognized: for his animated and nervous plastics is not characteristic of a monumental and static position with arms crossed at the chest level. The writer Nestor Kukolnik, in general, highly appreciating the work of Kiprensky, noted nevertheless that Pushkin did not have such a “body and eye revolution”.

Pushkin's pose in the portrait was interpreted in different ways: someone saw in her a model of balance and serene calm, a moment of harmony between the poet and the world; someone, on the contrary, saw tension, strong but hidden excitement, caused by difficult reflections and gloomy forebodings in the position of the poet’s body and his wide-open eyes; most agree that the “Napoleonic” pose adequately conveys Pushkin’s true greatness (“The beautiful must be stately!”) and is a successful compositional discovery by Kiprensky.

Author: Anna Yesterday
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About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Portrait

Style of art: Romanticism

Technique: Oil

Materials: Canvas

Date of creation: 1827

Size: 64.8×56.3 cm

Artwork in selections: 46 selections