Lauritz Tuxen. Court Painter. Works from Danish
and Russian collections
The exhibition in the Alexander Hall of the Winter Palace has been timed to coincide with the solemn transfer of the remains of Empress Maria Fedorovna from the Roskilde Cathedral (Denmark) and burial in the Peter and Paul Cathedral in St Petersburg. The exhibition has been organized by the State Hermitage together with the State Museum of Arts in Copenhagen (Denmark), with the participation of the Pavlovsk State Museum-Preserve
The exhibition displays16 works by Lauritz Tuxen (1853-1927) and a painting by Poul Fischer depicting Tuxen at work on the canvas Visit of the Royal Family to New Karsberg. Tuxen showed an interest in drawing at a very early age. During the years 1868-1872, Tuxen studied in the Academy of Arts. He went on to develop his talent in France, where he was influenced by the portraitist Léon Bonnat (1833-1922). While in France the artist mastered contemporary painting techniques, and in his landscapes and studies of nudes he was a continuator of the French Impressionists.
During the 1880s, Tuxen became a celebrity in Europe and won universal recognition as an outstanding master of state portraits. In 1883 the artist received a commission which shaped his further artistic path. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the reign the Danish royal couple - King Christian IX and Queen Louisa - members of the royal family gathered in the suburban residence of Fredensborg. The so-called Fredensborg Portrait depicted many European monarchs (a total of 32 persons) and marked the start of Tuxen's nearly 40-year-long career as portraitist to European rulers. He filled numerous orders from the King Christian IX of Denmark, Queen Victoria of Great Britain and the Russian Emperors Alexander III and Nicholas II.
The Fredensborg Portrait itself is not being shown, although the exhibition presents a portrait of Nicholas II as a child (1883) which belongs to a group of sketches for it. The Portrait of Emperor Alexander III, Empress Maria Fedorovna and Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich (1884) can also be considered as preparatory work for the Fredensborg Portrait.
Paintings of the Wedding of Nicholas II and Grand Duchess Alexandra Fedorovna and the Coronation of Nicholas II occupy an important place in the exhibition. These are two topics which the artist dealt with several times. The canvases on display allow visitors to acquaint themselves with various stages of the master's work on the paintings: a sketch (the Wedding, from a private collection in Denmark), a modello (the Wedding, from the Hermitage) and two versions of the Coronation (from Copenhagen and St Petersburg), as well as a completed version of the Coronation - Tuxen's masterpiece, from the Pavlovsk State Museum-Preserve.
The central figure of the exhibition is Maria Fedorovna, the daughter of Christian IX, wife of Alexander III, mother of Grand Duke Nicholas Aleksandrovich, heir to the Russian throne. She appears on three canvases devoted to the subject of the coronation of Nicholas II and on sketches for the Fredensborg group portrait which are displayed in the exhibition.
When depicting kings and emperors, Tuxen achieved not only an amazing resemblance in the portraits but also captured in the completed pictures a first-hand perception of his models. Tuxen enlivened the composition of his portraits with well directed poses, expressive gestures of his sitters and a diversity of colors. One can see in the exhibition his etude entitled Portrait of Queen Victoria (1894), which also demonstrates these painterly qualities.
The State Hermitage Publishing House has prepared an illustrated scholarly catalogue of the exhibition. The scholarly editor of the catalogue and curator of the exhibition is A.A. Babin, leading researcher of the Department of Western European Art in the State Hermitage and doctor of art history.