Description of the picture:
Catherine II for a walk in Tsarskoye Selo Park – Vladimir Lukich Borovikovsky. Canvas, oil. 99×68
Vladimir Lukich Borovikovsky – an outstanding master of the second half of the XVIII – the first quarter of the XIX century. A distinctive feature of his portrait work is the image of models on the background of nature, thereby indicating the harmony of man and nature, his naturalness and sincerity. In it is a characteristic sign of a new style of the era – sentimentalism.
Portrait of a captured Borovikovsky already in his declining years Catherine II is an exceptional example of the image of royal persons. It is difficult to recognize the powerful empress in an elderly friendly lady walking along a park path. Her clothes are emphasized informally, there are no attributes of power habitual for a ceremonial portrait. The ruler is not depicted in the palace interior, traditional for portraits of the kings of that time, but among the dense greenery of Tsarskoye Selo Park. But at the same time, the model is full of dignity, its pose and gestures are still magnificent, and the surrounding nature is intended to emphasize primarily the human principle of the autocrat of the Russian throne.
During the reign of Catherine the Great, a whole gallery of her portraits was painted by various artists, who served to create the desired image of an enlightened, wise, kind, great-power empress.
The artist moved away from the ceremonial and solemnity of the image. The portrait turned out to be chamber, almost homely, quite in the tradition of sentimentalism.
In the performance of Borovikovsky, she is not a sovereign and almighty here, but an ordinary, earthly one. And the surrounding area is not the golden halls of the palace, but a calm landscape, quiet alleys of the garden, a pond with swans.
A middle-aged woman is looking at us (although, at that time, Catherine was sixty five years old and embellished by the author), she rests on a cane, at the feet of her beloved dog.
Catherine is very humane, with a kind smile and a calm face, but at the same time, the inner strength and dignity of the empress is felt.
Her left хэнд points to the Chesme column depicted in the distance, which in this painting is a symbol of the country’s power and victory in the Russian-Turkish war. By such an allegory, the artist emphasizes that, while revealing his personal aspects of character, nevertheless, we are faced with the monarch of the victorious Russian state.
A copy of this canvas is known, which Borovikovsky himself wrote in the 1800s. Catherine is depicted on the background of the Kagul obelisk, established in honor of the victory over the Turkish troops in the Kagul battle of 1770. But, perhaps, this portrait turned out to be more strict and dry with the author, and in the person of Catherine less roundness, ruddyness and kindness.
The engraving of Nikolai Ivanovich Utkin “Catherine II”, executed in 1827, is also known from this copy.
Both the copy and the engraving were commissioned by the son of the Russian field marshal Pyotr Aleksandrovich Rumyantsev-Zadunaysky to perpetuate the memory of his father and his victories in the war against the Turks.
Portrait of Borovikovsky sovereign did not like. It was acquired by the landowner Muromtsev, then the philanthropist Kharitonenko, later he entered the Tretyakov Gallery.
Perhaps the portrait would not have had such fame and would not have caused so much interest if it were not for A. S. Pushkin. His “Captain’s Daughter” returned the picture to a second wind.
Reread chapter fourteen and through the eyes of her heroine Marya Ivanovna, you will see in the park that same woman on the bench, opposite the monument, in a warm-hearted, important and calm, with blue eyes – Empress Catherine II."