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|Original oil on canvas (glued to a wooden board) by famous German artist Mettenleiter, Johann Jakob (Germany 1750 - 1825 Russia). |
J.J. Mettenleiter was a famous artist already when he came to Russia in 1786 where he lived and worked until he died in 1825.
He was involved in many art projects in Russia.
Will list just a few during the reign of Catherine II.
Mettenleiter took parts in many projects in St. Petersburg and the surrounding area.
He was a professor in the Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg.
In 1787-1788 was assigned to restore the Murals in Hermitage.
In 1788 he was decorating a Big Concert Hall in Tzarskoe Selo palace.
His works decorated the Church of St.Catherine on Nevsky prospect.
In 1788-1790 he took a part in the decoration of Troitsky Cathedral of Alexander Nevsky Monastery.
In 1790 he started working for Grand Duke Pavel Petrovich (later tsar Paul I son of Catherine II).
In 1792-1793 he painted a series of views of Royal Residency of Pavlovsk and Gatchina.
He was admitted to the Court and met Catherine the Great many times.
This unique portrait of Catherine the Great painted during her life depicting her in her very late years, probably just before her death in 1796.
The image on the portrait is absolutely unusual and unique in comparison to any other portraits of her.
The uniqueness is laying in the most ever realistic image of Catherine II which was never painted by any other artist.
Most of the paintings depicting Catherine the Great in ceremonial style portraits with all the Royal regalia and sweetening of her features.
Just few artists painted her in casual dresses but they still always made her features more pleasant, younger, hiding some of her imperfections and definitely her age.
The uniqueness of this portrait is that she was painted as an old woman without any royal regalia, without any hint of her Royal status but what is the most important, without any adorn to her old features and even with accent on her age.
The uniqueness of this portrait is that it is the only one REALISTIC painting of Catherine the Great ever known to exist these days showing all the features some of which were never shown on her likeness.
Mettenleiter was a great artist of his time and a highly professional portrait painter.
Although Catherine, at first glance, seems to look quite ugly, but spent some time and look at her again and again, and you see that she is beautiful, not ugly, yes, beautiful and the beauty comes from her eyes.
What more then eyes can tell about a person, his wit, intelligence, character.
Look in her eyes and you will see not a regular old women beaten by age, but a very powerful minded person with very much alive glance that makes you feel the power of intelligent and experienced mind.
The last photo represents a work of J.J. Mettenleiter which is in Russian State Museum of Art in St. Petersburg.
There is a man with similar age to Catherine the Great, but look at his eyes, no life, no power, no intellect compare to Catherineís portrait and he isnít a peasant, he is a high rank military officer.
To be continued.
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