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Princess Yusupov in his Palace on the Moika

Painting, 1902, 181.5×133 cm

Description of the artwork «Princess Yusupov in his Palace on the Moika»

In the XX century Valentin Serov rushed, having the reputation of the court portraitist. Among his regular customers was Nicholas II and after portrait of Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich he was awarded the Grand medal of honour at the world exhibition in Paris, its shares have jumped in price. One of the most notable persons in the "queue Serov" was Princess Zinaida Yusupova.

Like Princess Orlova she was a socialite. She, too, avoided the Grand balls and also knew a lot about hats – no wonder Orlov thought of her as his main competitor in the high fashion.

And yet Yusupov was almost the complete opposite Orlova: contemporaries noted her outstanding beauty, intelligence, tact, ability to keep simple and yet with great dignity. That Zinaida Nikolaevna was not trivial secular lady says the fact that she managed the impossible: to fascinate a gloomy and unsociable Serov. "The glorious Princess he wrote to his wife, - it is all praise, and though it is something delicate, good".

Serov had heard about the opulence of the Yusupov Palace on the Moika, but what he saw exceeded all his expectations. The Princess gave him a tour, in the end he was dizzy from the frescoes, the marble statues by Canova, paintings by Rembrandt and Velazquez. As interior Serov chose a small and modest – by the standards of the Yusupov mansion – living room. Adopting the dress and Spitz, he started to work, which required 80 sessions. "I lost weight, grew fat, lost weight again while he turned Serov my portrait a little, writes and writes!" said later, Princess.

The portrait was met with quite restrained. Critics blamed Serov on deliberate posture, the excessive simplicity of the composition, dissonant with an abundance of "alarmingly curved lines" that mother of pearl face Yusupova looks like the mask of formal courtesy, that all this creates a sense of tension. Apparently, the Princess was partly agrees: according to some reports, the Yusupovs were going to cut out of the portrait oval, leaving only the face, but, fortunately, decided not to.

Anyway, ambiguous portrait did not prevent Valentin Serov and Zinaida Yusupova remain good friends. When in the autumn of 1903 Serov became seriously ill and underwent major surgery, the Yusupovs were among the first to show concern and willingness to help. Later, as in Europe, Serov sent a gift to Zinaida Nikolaevna small souvenir – a toy monkey. And Princess Yusupov – one of the richest noblewomen of Russia was touched by this mark of attention.

By the way, the Serov portrait remained is happy – he particularly liked how it was the smile of the Princess. This fact proudly noted in his memoirs the son Yusupovo – count Felix Sumarokov-Elston. "We were especially happy Serov, when he managed a smile of my mother, whom he loved he wrote about it. – He loved her the mobility of a person and her grace".

Author: Andrew Zimoglyadov
I like58 To the selection50
About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Portrait

Style of art: Art Nouveau

Technique: Oil

Materials: Canvas

Date of creation: 1902

Size: 181.5×133 cm

Artwork in selections: 50 selections