Portrait of Count Ivan Grigorievich Orlov, Rokotov – description

Description of the picture:

Portrait of Count Ivan G. Orlov – Fedor Stepanovich Rokotov. Between one thousand seven hundred sixty two and 1765. Oil on canvas. 58.5×46.5

   The work of Rokotov opens the period of brilliant flowering of Russian portraiture in the second half of the 18th century. Unfortunately, almost nothing is known about the artist’s life.

   The character of the portrait is one of the Orlov brothers, newly majestic nobles who contributed to the ascension of Catherine II to the throne and were showered with royal favors. Rokotov also owns a portrait of Grigory Orlov, the favorite of the Empress and, apparently, the third brother of Alexei, a participant in the defeat of the Turkish fleet in the naval battle near Chesma.

   Ivan Orlov was an outstanding person. He did not succumb to the temptation of a court career, and having received the count title and the rank of captain of the Life Guards of the Preobrazhensky Regiment, he retired and subsequently refused ranks and insignia. The public service Orlov preferred economic activity and zealously controlled the huge fortune and numerous estates of the family. He was proud of the role of the elder in the family and the affection of his famous brothers, who, when he appeared, stood up as a sign of respect.

   Orlov is represented in the portrait dressed in an expensive caftan, his posture is calm and proud, in his expression through a mask of noble courtesy one can guess the mind, firmness and imperious self-confidence. Rokotov’s magnificent pictorial mastery is manifested both in soft modeling of volumes and in how subtly, with a great sense of material, velvet, fur and lace are written.

   The portrait of I. Orlov, twice repeated by Rokotov, refers to the Petersburg period of his work. It is not dated by the artist, however it was undoubtedly written no earlier than 1762, when the Orlovs came into force with the accession of Catherine II. The original portrait was engraved by E.P. Chemesov; in the inscription under the image, the engraver cited verses by A.P. Sumarokov, praising the virtues of the count. The engraving allows dating the portrait of Rokotov proud no later than one thousand seven hundred sixty five – the year of the death of E.P. Chemesov."

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