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  • Portrait of Pyotr M. Volkonsky (1776-1852)

    Artist:
    Dawe, George. 1781-1829
    Technique:
    oil
    Dimensions:
    71x61,5 cm

Dawe, George. 1781-1829

Portrait of Pyotr M. Volkonsky (1776-1852)

1823

The Most Illustrious Prince Piotr Mikhailovich Volkonsky (1776–1852) was a military man, rising to the rank of field marshal in 1843. He fought at Austerlitz in 1805 and served as quartermaster general of the Russian army in 1810–12, including the campaign against Napoleon’s Grande Armée in 1812. In 1813–14, he was chief of staff to Kutuzov and then to Alexander I. When the General Staff was founded in 1815, he became its head and was in charge of the armed forces until 1823. He participated in the work of the Congress of Vienna (1814–15). In 1821 he was made a member of the State Council. He was Minister of the Imperial Court (1825–37) and Appanages (1826–52), administering the properties belonging to the imperial family. Volkonsky enjoyed the complete trust of two Russian emperors – Alexander I and Nicholas I. Volkonsky first posed for George Dawe in 1818, during the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle (Aachen), when the representatives of European states who gathered there were joined by artists seeking commissions. According to the memoirs of Alexander Mikhailovsky-Danilevsky, who was also in the Emperor’s retinue: “His Majesty was so amazed at the exceptional resemblance that he ordered me to propose to Dawe that he come to Russia to make portraits of our generals, to which, as can easily be imagined, he happily agreed.” It could be said that from that moment the English artist’s lucky star was in the ascendant. He received the exceptionally prestigious commission to produce over 300 portraits for the War Gallery of 1812 in the Winter Palace that brought him fame, wealth and encounters with interesting people. The portrait that was begun in Aachen is now in the Gatchina palace museum outside St Petersburg. The work included in the exhibition is a replica made for the Emperor’s brother, Grand Duke Mikhail Pavlovich, while for the War Gallery the artist produced yet another, stating specifically that it was “painted from nature”. With his characteristic masterful ease, Dawe managed to convey the look of lively intelligence on the Prince’s face and to depict equally picturesquely, yet at the same time with precise realism, the General’s uniform and all the decorations on his chest.

Title:

Portrait of Pyotr M. Volkonsky (1776-1852)

Date:

Material:

Technique:

oil

Dimensions:

71x61,5 cm

Acquisition date:

Entered the Hermitage in 1923; handed over from the Beloselsky-Belozersky (Sergievsky) Palace (the City Museum)

Inventory Number:

ГЭ-6460

Category:

Collection: