Portrait of an unknown in a Russian suit, Ivan Petrovich Argunov – overview

Portrait of an unknown in a Russian suit, Ivan Petrovich Argunov – overview
Portrait of an unknown in a Russian suit, Ivan Petrovich Argunov - overview - 1

  • Posted by Ivan Petrovich Argunov
  • Museum: Tretyakov Gallery
  • Year: 1784

Overview of the painting :

Portrait of an unknown in a Russian suit – Ivan Petrovich Argunov. Oil on canvas. 67 × 54 cm
   Ivan Petrovich Argunov has been serfdom all his life. Having become an artist, he works hard and fruitfully, writing many ceremonial portraits: family members of his masters, dignitaries. But he is not free, he has to combine creativity with the fulfillment of the instructions of Count P. B. Sheremeteva, and in the 1870s he had practically no time left to write paintings – he was appointed manager of the large St. Petersburg house. But during this period, he creates his masterpiece – a portrait of a young peasant woman, for the first time in Russian art turning to the image of a man from the people.

   Dark brown, almost black background does not distract attention from a young girl. The scattered light envelops it with a soft radiance, dyeing the darkness behind it in reddish-olive shades.

   With weightless, light touch of the brush, the master puts the finest layers of paint, then translucent, then thick and dense. Shades imperceptibly replace each other, transmitting the play of light and shadow. A few more strokes – and in front of us is a living Russian beauty.

   Hair removed to a high red coconut, richly embroidered with golden sewing. The smooth lines are drawn by the artist an elegant oval of the face, a slightly curly nose, dark half circles of eyebrows. A gentle pink blush shades light cream velvety skin. Expressive gray eyes look calm and confident. A slightly crafty smile plays on the coral lips, it seems, another moment, and the girl will smile friendly and trusting.

   Large ruby red beads draw attention to the slender neck and beautiful shoulder line. The line of beads is repeated by a low neckline of a white shirt with lush sleeves, and the upper edge of an elegant aloofan decorated with golden braid and pearl buttons. The glare of light sparkles on a silver earring with precious stones.

   To emphasize the girl’s warmth, kindness and charm, the artist chooses a warm paint palette, using only three colors: juicy red, golden yellow and milky white. And the dark background gives rise to a feeling of glowing skin, a sparkle of heavy golden threads.

   This is one of the best female portraits in Russian painting, conveying the great beauty of a young woman.