The portrait of the most famous of the Russian empresses, Catherine II, was painted by adjunct painter Fedor Rokotov in 1763, when coronation celebrations were held for the sovereign's accession to the Russian throne.
Despite his relatively young age, Rokotov by that time was already a fairly well-known artist, and the highest order was another evidence of recognition of his talent. To write a portrait, the empress posed for Rokotov in Peterhof.
For Rokotov, a student of the Elizabethan court painter Pietro Rotari, diligence and the ability to delve into nature are characteristic. The composition of the canvas is built around the profile rotation of the figure sitting in the chair. In ceremonial portraits, such a technique is not too common.
Part of the reason for the unusual portrait is the unusual nature of the empress herself, in the formation of new ideals. At the beginning of the reign, she was fond of the latest philosophical ideas, actively corresponded with French enlightenment encyclopedists - Didro, Voltaire and several others. The empress gestures to the interlocutor, invisible to the viewer of the picture.
The rest of the composition is quite traditional. The painting contains all the imperial regalia, usual for ceremonial portraits. The solemn parade background gives the solemnity to the portrait - a column and draperies. And, of course, the Empress herself, with an ideal posture developed over the years, and a refined profile. The portrait is both dynamic, vibrant and majestic.
The empress herself considered the portrait, painted by Fedor Rokotov, one of her most successful images. Over the next decades, the picture was repeatedly copied, both by the author himself and by numerous imitators, followers. There are both exact copies and repetitions of the portrait, as well as containing minor changes in accessories.
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