Dmitry Grigoryevich Levitsky, who lived during the time of Catherine II, was a master of the so-called “ceremonial portraits”, where models were depicted in all the splendor of ceremonial clothes and regalia. In such works, everything is carefully verified - and the pose of the portrait, and the look, and the costume, and, of course, the background.
As for the expressiveness of the model’s face, it was impossible to pay much attention to conveying the real nature of the person you are painting. But although the artist carefully treated the image of all attributes appropriate to such a portrait, for all this he did not forget to show the features of the personality that he depicted.
The portrait of the famous industrialist and philanthropist Prokop Akinfievich Demidov at first glance contradicts the whole concept of the front portrait - the portrayed person is depicted not in a front dress with many orders, but in simple (for a rich person, of course) home clothes.
A shirt with a vest, knickers, stockings, simple black shoes, a velvet bathrobe, a cap and a scarf casually wrapped around the neck. At the same time, Demidov’s pose is what it should be in the parade portrait - he stands majestically, resting his left hand on an iron large watering can, and his right hand with a solemn gesture points to the flower pots standing nearby.
The details on the canvas are not talking about the regalia of Demidov, who, by the way, never was in the civil service, but about his personal interests and preferences. Pots with plants, bulbs on the table, watering can indicate Demidov’s love for gardening - he had a whole botanical garden at home, and the industrialist himself loved to collect herbaria. At the same time, the background of the portrait was made in the best traditions of ceremoniality - draperies, Greek columns, the impressive building of the Educational House, on which Demidov donated a considerable amount of money.
Demidov’s expression is devoid of pomp and pomp - he looks at the viewer with irony and skepticism. All this speaks of the undoubted talent of the painter, of the ability to penetrate external attributes and show the world the humanity of the characters in his paintings.