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George Dow
United Kingdom 1781−1829
Biography and information

In 1819-1829, he worked in St. Petersburg, where he wrote (with the help of Russian painters V. A. Golike and A. V. Polyakov) 329 half-length portraits of generals who participated the Patriotic war of 1812 and foreign campaigns of 1813-1814, large portraits of M. I. Kutuzov and M. B. Barclay de Tolly (1829), 4 portraits of soldier-veterans (1828), formed the Military gallery in the Winter Palace.


Also served as private commissions.

English artist George Dawe (1781-1829) was known in Europe as a fashionable portraitist and master of engravings; he was also created the historical, mythological and genre paintings in the spirit of sentimental romanticism. Dou painted portraits of English generals who distinguished themselves in the battle of Waterloo. In 1818 he attended the Congress of the heads of state of the Holy Alliance in Aachen, where he was presented to Alexander I., the Russian Emperor invited him to Russia to work on portraits for the Military gallery of the Winter Palace.


Arriving in St. Petersburg in the spring of 1819, George Dawe stayed in the capital for 10 years. During this time the artist himself or jointly with his Russian disciples V. A. Golike (died in 1848) and A. V. Polyakov (1801-1835) for the gallery was completed 333 of the portrait. In the fall of 1820 at the Academy of fine arts was a small exhibition of George Dawe, after which he was elected an honorary member of St. Petersburg Academy of arts. The exhibition has brought the master a huge success. Since that time, many members of the Royal family, courtiers and Ministers, born noblemen and officers of the guards began to order Dow their portraits. The artist managed to paint all of them.


Interestingly, none of his contemporaries left descriptions of his appearance and manners. He never visited, almost no one spoke. In St. Petersburg, the Dow tirelessly worked long hours at the easel in his Palace Studio, in the homes of the wealthy private customers.


The first years the artist worked alone, then he created a workshop. First came from England engravers - in-law DOE, Thomas Wright, and younger brother Henry Dow, who sang of engravings of the works of George Dawe. The demand for these prints was very large: they acquired themselves depicted to give loved ones, their relatives, colleagues, and the institutions they headed, the educational institution where they studied.


In 1822, in the Studio, Dou had two assistants, Alexander Polyakov and Vasily (Wilhelm) Golike. Despite the fact that all the portraits were entered in the catalog of the Hermitage as works by George Dawe, the stylistic differences are apparent. There is no doubt that some of them are not written by Dow and one of his assistants. In 1828, Dow received the title of first portrait painter of the Russian Imperial court and soon left Petersburg. By this time the master was a member of the St. Petersburg and Academy of arts in London, was elected to the Vienna, Florence, Paris, Munich, Dresden and Stockholm Academies.


In February 1829 the Dow returned to St. Petersburg to paint a portrait of Grand Duke Konstantin Pavlovich (in growth) and to finish some portraits for the war gallery. Sharply deteriorating health forced him to leave for London, where he died in October 1829


After the death of Dou, his son-in-law Thomas Wright, who arrived in Russia for the inheritance of the artist, finished Dou three half-length portraits of generals and portrait of Grand Duke Konstantin Pavlovich.


Judging by the numerous contemporaries, they were amazed at the creativity of the Dow ability to accurately convey the shape of the model and skill with a brush. "Mechanical reception of the hands of his very special; the brush is broad, bold, quick, but too quick... she does not put, throw paint, and at other times, it seems, do not you touch them... that's why all the pictures of the DOE seem to work a la prima, come from sketches...," wrote P. Svinyin in the journal "notes of the Fatherland" in 1820, Theatrical romantic elation compositions and a sketch of manners, which are often mistaken for carelessness, evoked some dissatisfaction of the critics, the rest of DOE, awarded to the highest epithets.

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