Museums and Art

Portrait of Count M. M. Speransky, P. A. Ivanov, 1806

Portrait of Count M. M. Speransky, P. A. Ivanov, 1806

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Portrait of Count M. 7.5x6.3

The art of portrait miniatures on bones reached its peak in the 18th - first half of the 19th centuries. Small images - prototypes of modern photography - were so popular that there was even a separate class at the Imperial Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg, where they taught this labor-intensive craft. Pavel Alekseevich Ivanov (1776-1813) first studied at the Academy himself, and after almost ten years he headed the class.

The portrait depicts Mikhail Mikhailovich Speransky - Lawyer, statesman of the times of Alexander I, author of the “Plan of Public Education”. He is shown in a three-quarter turn on a neutral bluish background, wearing a black frock coat. The Order of Vladimir of the 3rd degree hangs on the tape, Speransky holds a book in his hands and shows with all his slightly arrogant appearance that he broke away from fascinating reading only for the sake of this work of the artist.

Despite the apparent simplicity, the art of portrait miniatures required great accuracy and patience, because the image was formed from hundreds of thin brush strokes that were not visible from a distance. Artworks written on an ivory record are extremely fragile. Perhaps that is why a little work by Ivanov has been preserved.

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