• Portrait of Catherine II in front of a Mirror

    Artist:
    Ericksen, Vigilius. 1722-1782
    Technique:
    oil
    Dimensions:
    262,5x201,5 cm

Ericksen, Vigilius. 1722-1782

Portrait of Catherine II in front of a Mirror

Denmark, between 1762 and 1764

Vigilius Ericksen produced some remarkable portraits of the Russian Empress in the first decade of her reign, such as Catherine II in Her Coronation Dress and Catherine II on Horseback in a Guards Uniform and one of the best depictions of her – Catherine II in front of a Mirror. The Danish-born artist came to Russia at the end of the reign of Empress Elizabeth and witnessed Catherine at the height of her charms, when a youthful fragility and angular gracefulness gave way to enchanting femininity. That is precisely the time when the sketch for the Portrait in front of a Mirror, now at the manor house of Schierensee in Germany, was made. In contrast to that, in this painting, which was completed only after her coronation in 1762, the composition took on a formal coldness and significance, excluding anything random. The viewer is presented not simply with a charming, sociable lady smiling welcomingly but with a fully-fledged empress, the mistress of a huge realm. Catherine II demonstratively points with her fan to the symbols of power – the crown, orb and sceptre, whose reflections glisten in the mirror as if doubling their power. The Empress’s firm clear-cut profile seems to have been stamped on the mirror as if on a coin. From this point onwards, portraiture would serve to affirm Catherine the Great’s authority and promote her ideas within the country and beyond.

Title:

Portrait of Catherine II in front of a Mirror

Place:

Material:

Technique:

oil

Dimensions:

262,5x201,5 cm

Acquisition date:

Entered the Hermitage in 1918

Inventory Number:

ГЭ-1352

Category:

Collection:

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