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Dmitry Grigorievich Levitsky
 Grigorievich Levitsky
Russia 1735−1822
Biography and information
Dmitry Grigorevich Levitsky (may 1735, Kiev – 4 (16) April 1822, St. Petersburg) – Russian painter of Ukrainian origin, master of the ceremonial and intimate (intimate) portrait, author of images of famous people of the Russian state, including the Empress Catherine II and the "small yard" (so called in St. Petersburg the court of the crown Prince Paul), academician, head of the portrait class at the Academy of arts, member of the Masonic Lodge "the Dying Sphinx".

Features of the artist Dmitry Levitsky. Brilliant talent allowed Levitsky enrich established by the XVIII century in Russia the tradition of painting, expanding the scope of classicism and bringing the visual arts (just as it did in the literature Derzhavin) live spontaneity and naturalness. Starting with the early works, Levitsky appears as a first-class master of the ceremonial portrait ("Portrait of the architect A. F. Kokorin"), you are able to find expressive pose and gesture, to grasp for the status attributes of the natural charm of the model, the material brilliantly to convey the beauty and texture of objects, to combine high intensity colors with harmonious tonal unity. Chamber portraits by Dmitry Levitsky ("Portrait of P. A. Demidov", "Portrait of E. A. Bakunina", etc.) there is a special "domacnost", the familiarity of the tone. Similar to English contemporary and colleague Thomas Gainsborough, Levitsky prefers for his portraits not deaf, and the translucent "glowing" inside the background, he is also attentive to the subtle individual characteristics of the persons of his heroes and his heroines (Maria Dyakova, Ursula Mniszek girls-smolyanka), if not always flawlessly beautiful, always unique.

Famous paintings by Dmitry Levitsky: portrait of Catherine II of France in the temple of the goddess of justice, portrait of E. N. Khrushcheva and E. N. Khovanskaya"("Smolyanka"), portrait of Maria Dyakova, portrait of N. And.Novikova, portrait of Denis Diderot.

Levitsky, best Russian portraitist of the eighteenth century, already in the XIX century was completely forgotten. Private student Kiprensky eclipsed his glory, when Levitsky was still alive. And with the advent of Perov, Kramskoi and Repin began to feel that any portrait of Catherine's era unduly pompous and hopelessly old-fashioned. Only in the early twentieth century Alexander Benois learned the name of Levitsky from oblivion. He was convinced and managed to convince others that in all European art of the Enlightenment with Levitsky can compete in skill is that German Anton Graff (and that is doubtful) and the Englishman Thomas Gainsborough.

Dmitry Grigoryevich Levitsky was descended from a Ukrainian noble-priests. His ancestors with "Gogol's" the Nose name in the XVII century moved from the right-Bank Ukraine near Poltava. Grigory Kirillovich, father Levitskywas educated priest. He was fond of painting and engraving, and even went to take lessons in "the Germans", and became the first teacher Dmitri. Father made for his son and his future two more important things: settled in Kiev and was replaced by a funny name "Nose" harmonious "Levitsky".

Kiev beginning and middle of the eighteenth century, imbued with Western cultural influences, was a place much more educated than both the Russian capital. It spins a rich cultural environment and education in the Kiev theological Academy, "this Russian Sorbonne", Benoit connects the emergence of such amazing talent, like painting.

At the beginning of the 1750-ies in Kiev arrived the painter Aleksey Antropov. He had to paint the newly built according to Rastrelli's project, the Church of St. Andrew. Levitsky began to assist Antropov. Upon completion of the work, the mentor took him with him to Moscow – there was also work on the decoration of churches.

Views Antropov had rather original. For example, he struggled despised the newly established Art Academy because she "spoils" the talents and dries individuality. Levitsky, in any case, Antropov to come back to learn ordered. Levitsky was limited to private lessons in perspectivist and set designer Giuseppe Valeriani and painter Louis Jean François Lagrenée, studied in turn, Van Loo, court painter of Louis XV.

First thank Levitsky brought 6 paintings, presented at the annual academic exhibition in 1770-m. Of 6 paintings survived only 3, including the famous portrait of the architect Kokorin. For him, Levitskiy was awarded the title of academician.

So relatively easy little nugget entered the cultural elite of St. Petersburg. He was invited to write the alumnae of the Smolny Institute for noble maidens, to portray Catherine nobles and chamber-maids of honor. Levitsky was deprived of his subservience to the model of his contemporary Rokotovalien to sentimentality Junior colleaguesBorovikovsky. His technique is superb, and painting techniques non-standard and fresh. Naturally, he had reached the highest stage of artistic hierarchy – were committed to writing portraits of the Empress.

In the last quarter of the eighteenth century Levitsky finally settling in St. Petersburg. He is happily married with his house on Vasilievsky island is famous for its hospitality. There are the most educated people of his time – and Chemnitzer Bogdanovich, Kapnist and Derzhavin.

One of the close friends Levitsky became the enlightener Nikolay Novikov. The theoretical ideas he had implemented in practice: opened in Moscow printing house, library in 16 Russian cities established bookshops. However, the "enlightened Empress" found a reason to put Novikova in Shlisselburgsky fortress: in the 1770s, he joined the masons and was actively criticized serfdom. On the death of Catherine, the first day of his own ascension to the throne Paul I will release Novikov. "Portrait Of N. And.Novikova"stored in the Tretyakov gallery, Levitsky written shortly after his release. With great psychological precision, the artist depicts a man sick and exhausted, but not broken, do not abandon valuable ideas.

Novikov vouch for Levitsky when he decided to join the Freemasons. In 1800, the year a prominent Mason Alexander Labzin just established the Lodge "the Dying Sphinx". There were adopted and Borovikovsky, Levitsky, and Rokotov portrait painter, by the way, became a Mason much earlier: among the "Freemasons" was a common tradition to order portraits of the "brothers", because the painters took in the masons with special zeal.

Levitsky also write several major masons. Portrait of the Labzina brush Borovikovsky preserved, but the Levitsky – no. This is, perhaps, symbolic. Borovikovsky remained loyal to Freemasonry to the end. In Levitsky, apparently leaped to his Ukrainian pragmatism: he not only broke with the masons, but then strongly opposed to mysticism, which flourished in full bloom at the court of Alexander I.

"A kind of instinctive irony," for the wonderful formula Benoit, led the artist in life and in art. In creativity Levitsky slipped successfully between the Scylla of Baroque excess and the Charybdis of classic severity. It was more important than the personality of the model than its sovereign merits. Portraits Suvorov and Golenishchev-Kutuzov, Vorontsov and Potemkin do not take the glamor poses and solemnity of the surroundings, but the expression of individuality, "uncommon visage". Levitsky will live a long life. However, by the beginning of the new century, the time of his glory and exaltation is left behind.

Forgotten about aging Levitsky suddenly remembered in 1807-m. Arguing that "his pension is very scarce"and "exercise and cognition is extensive"artist was invited to teach at the Academy of fine arts, where, in 1780-s, he has conducted a portrait class. Then among his students was actually born a real diamond – Orest Kiprensky.

Konstantin Paustovsky in the essay on Kirenskom brings curious facts about his teacher Levitsky:"Over the minds of artists ruled after the first few pages - the crafty and good-natured Ukrainian, created brilliant portraits of gentlemen and ladies of Catherine's era. All tried to imitate the warm Golden tone of his paintings. The tone of the young artists were caught and studied everywhere - in dusty classrooms of the Academy, when the setting sun threw slanting rays on the floor in the glow of the domes and the game bronze candlesticks, in the eyes of beauties, posiadanych a candle flame. The last paintings of Levitsky Golden tone disappeared. He turned purple and crimson, cold and old sound."

The latter, "senile", and his decade was sad. It is known that Levitsky was almost blind. The Soviet art criticism claimed that the artist left to write, as immersed in serious religious obscurantism. However, the data for such a conclusion is not enough: the whole theory is based on a single memoir the testimony of the person allegedly saw as a decrepit Levitsky on all fours crawling to the altar to receive communion.

In any case, the trajectory the artist has developed so that he long survived his triumph. Fifty years Levitsky has lived in St. Petersburg, on Vasilievsky island. Matter how bad, lonely and cold sometimes in North Palmyra, he decided not to return nor in a cosy and familiar to Moscow, nor to the small home in Kiev. But the era of Catherine the great accomplishments, which itself Levitsky was fully involved, with a roar has sunk into Oblivion in front of him.

"Neither country nor graveyard don't want to choose, on Vasilevsky island I will come to die," – write many years later Brodsky. Funny and sad, but just so one and a half centuries previously received Levitsky. In 1822, the year he died at his home on Vasilievsky island in complete obscurity. Grave "the Russian Gainsborough" at the Smolensk cemetery in St. Petersburg was lost.

Author: Anna Yesterday
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