Portrait of Catherine II (1763), Fedor Stepanovich Rokotov

Portrait of Catherine II (1763), Fedor Stepanovich Rokotov
Portrait of Catherine II (1763), Fedor Stepanovich Rokotov - 1

  • Posted by Fedor Stepanovich Rokotov
  • Museum: Tretyakov Gallery
  • Year: 1763

Overview of the painting :

Portrait of Catherine II – Fedor Stepanovich Rokotov. 1763. Oil on canvas. 155.5 x 139 cm

   This portrait was most loved by Russian Empress Catherine II among all her many ceremonial images. It reflects all the principles of the formation of solemn portraits of the ruling elite and was timed to coincide with the moment of the coronation of the great empress. Her “golden age” is yet to come, but in the portrait she already acts as a great ruler, a mighty and wise “mother of the Fatherland”.

   In the picture you can find all the traditional principles of the ceremonial image, which refer us to the classical methods of depicting kings developed back in ancient Rome. In fact, there are a lot of references on the canvas by this time. For example, the composition of the picture with the empress captured on the throne immediately indicates its dominant position in society, inaccessible to other mortals.

   Catherine II is depicted in profile, which is also characteristic of antiquity. Her face is clearly read against the background of the vaguely visible in the background of classical architecture with a massive column. It looks just like the profiles of the great Roman emperors on coins and medals of the times of antiquity.

   The canvas is impressive not only for its composition, but also for its abundance of complex details. For the parade attire of the empress, the most expensive materials were used – parcha, taffeta, silk, moire, organza and lace, golden sewing – which are extremely difficult to depict. The artist masterfully coped with the task assigned to him. He wrote out in detail every element of clothing and jewelry, having managed to combine them with color and light so that there is a sense of integrity and harmony at the highest level.

   The color scheme of the ceremonial portrait pleases with its freshness and elegantness. The empress’s dress is dominated by gentle and light pearl shades that are in perfect harmony with her snow-white skin and blond hair laid in a intricate fashionable hairstyle in those days. Attention is drawn to two bright contrast spots, which, however, do not “get to the fore” due to the use by the artist of softened, “polluted” shades. This is a scarlet upholstery of the throne in a rich golden carved wooden frame and a blue moireol, thrown over the shoulder of the sovereign. These bright colors and dark massive drapery in folds in the background break and complement the light iridescent shades of the coronation rich outfit.

   The portrait shows us a strong strong strong-willed woman, chosen by God to rule her huge country.