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|An 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 when he came to Russia in 1786 where he lived and worked until hes death in 1825.
Mettenleiter took parts in many art 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 are portraits in ceremonial style with all the Royal regalia on and sweetening of her features.
Just a few artists painted her in casual dresses, but even then they 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 on her Royal status and 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.
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 will 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, all you can see in the eyes.
Look in her eyes and you will see not a regular old women beaten by age, but a very powerful minded person with a very much alive glance that makes you feel the power of her 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 Catherine's portrait and he is not a peasant, he is a high rank military officer, but he is rather dull then smart.
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