“Portrait of a Chelishchev boy”, Orest Adamovich Kiprensky – overview

“Portrait of a Chelishchev boy”, Orest Adamovich Kiprensky – overview
“Portrait of a Chelishchev boy”, Orest Adamovich Kiprensky - overview - 1

    • Posted by: Orest Adamovich Kiprensky
    • Museum: Tretyakov Gallery
    • Year: 1808

Overview of the painting :

Portrait of the boy Chelishchev – Orest Adamovich Kiprensky. 1808. Oil on canvas. 48 x 38 cm

This picture is one of the first children’s portraits where the artist really tried to portray a child with his entire inner world, and not a smaller copy of an adult, as they did before. It is not clear to our contemporaries that relatively recently children were not treated as is now customary. They didn’t even have special “childish” clothes, the kids were dressed in miniature copies of adult outfits. There was no talk of any child psychology.

Most portraits of children of those eras portray kids and adolescents as a reduced version of an adult, they are dressed up and combed in the same way as their parents. Such paintings look artificial, and children resemble wax statues, with the rarest exception (The Boy in the Blue by Gainsboro and Menina Velazquez).

In this portrait, the artist first depicted a real child, without age-related stylization. The picture, inscribed in a dumpling according to the style of that time, depicts a boy with still childishly chubby cheeks and delicate skin. He has bright, juicy lips and very expressive dark and big eyes. They immediately attract the attention of the viewer, since the artist successfully managed to convey a certain childhood thoughtfulness in them. It seems that during the position, the child was distracted from what was happening and plunged into his thoughts.

Since it is well known that the artist wrote all his portraits from nature, such a attractiveness of the image of the child becomes clear. The master simply amazingly conveyed all the features of the child’s face and its unique expression, according to which it is immediately clear that we have a child. Despite the “adult” clothes and hairstyle, this is a little boy in front of whom lies a great future. It has not yet been known to anyone, but in the future this gentle and dreamy child will become the hero of the Patriotic War of 1812, then he will enter one of the decabrist societies that tried to change the country’s history by overthrowing the autocracy.

But all this is in the distant future, and now the future decabrist is in a state where childhood is gradually turning into adulthood. Despite all the external tenderness in the proud posture of the boy, in his manner to keep his head and watch, the breed and excellent education are felt. The artist managed to catch this thin line, make the portrait alive, so it still admires.

The color scheme is restrained, but expressive due to the bright central accent – the boy’s aloof vest. His dark blue frock coat creates a beautiful contrast with juicy and catchy color, and bright tones throw pink glare at his still childishly smooth and gentle cheeks. The good complexion of a child from high society shades the sugar whiteness of the collar of a shirt, almost hidden by a high-root of outer clothing. Attracts attention and hairstyle – this is a typical masculine styling, fashionable in those romantic times.

There is not a single detail in the portrait that could distract attention from the appearance of the boy and his inspired face. Composite image is ideally inscribed in a oval, the background is homogeneous, grayish, designed only to give volume and live paint to the portrait of the child. Clothing is also extremely simple, without details and finishes, only large buttons of a highly buttoned red vest, drawn with the same fabric from which the thing itself is sewn, attract attention. All this is intended to ensure that the attention of the beholder is concentrated on the face of the boy, on his expressive and bottomless black eyes. If you follow the assertion that the eyes are a mirror of the soul, then the master was able to perfectly capture the living, developing soul of the child, preserving this wonderful image for the descendants.