There is nothing more complicated in painting as the work on a portrait. It is not easy to convey the emotions of a living person with paints and your skill on canvas. Borovikovsky is perhaps the only Russian painter who knew how to paint portraits.
Before us are two portraits of the same person, they were simply painted at different times. The lower portrait, where the great Russian poet Gavril Derzhavin looks very fit, and it is clear that his life is going quite rapidly. He works, this is indicated by his hand, which is entrusted to manuscripts and documents. He is caressed by power and deservedly so. This is evidenced by awards. From the portrait you can easily understand who is in front of us: behind him, stands a bookcase, which is full of books, scrolls. And we can say for sure that we have a front portrait.
But Borovikovsky was writing from nature and how accurately he noticed both his raised eyebrows and this half-smile of a slightly plump man who was pleased with himself.
But here is another portrait. All the same artist Borovikovsky and the same poet Derzhavin is written on it, but ... It was written sixteen years later and there is no longer that ceremonial portrait. Here it’s completely different, something is already completely different. Old age? Yes, but not decrepitude yet. It can be seen that there is still the opportunity to think. Eyes that burn with life, but how much fatigue is in them. But the half-smile was saved. And then the awards increased. So it was not in vain that he lived his life. And almost for the first time Borovikovsky did not paint a portrait in any interior, but simply a portrait on a gray-green background.
Derzhavin in the portrait is a thinner, slightly haggard man, but still happy. Perhaps this is exactly what the artist wanted to convey: he is an old, but happy man. And by the way, a little later Derzhavin will hear Pushkin, the successor of Russian literature, but there he will meet wise old age and eternal youth.
But Borovikovsky wants to say thank you for not lying, not embellishing, but showing the poet as he really was.