Main | Art magazine | Why did Serov's portrait of Yusupova criticized, and why did the customer want to cut it? About the artist's most "glamorous" artwork.
Why did Serov's portrait of Yusupova criticized, and why did the customer want to cut it? About the artist's most "glamorous" artwork.

Why did Serov's portrait of Yusupova criticized, and why did the customer want to cut it? About the artist's most "glamorous" artwork.

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Russian artist Valentin Serov had a reputation as a remarkable portraitist, to whom even members of the royal family, in particular Nicholas II himself, turned. Thus, in 1900 he painted the outstanding "Portrait of Nicholas II in a gray jacket", where Nicholas II appeared not as an arrogant emperor, but rather as a very tired of power and his status as a man who simply performs his duty. There is a clear sympathy for the Emperor on the part of Serov and there was a reason - Nicholas II stood up for the patron of many artists Savva Mamontov, when he was arrested and kept under investigation in a cell, and helped financially to the new magazine "World of Art".

Valentin Serov. Portrait of Nicholas II in a gray jacket

And at that time he had not yet discredited himself in any way - before the events of "Bloody Sunday" in 1905 was still far away. Therefore, the emperor turned out to be the way he was in ordinary life, good Serov's eye for identifying the smallest traits of character was trained - intelligent, soft, but at the same time a little weak-willed, not too ready to rule such a huge state. But everyone still liked the artwork, and members of the royal family turned to Serov repeatedly, until the artist himself rebelled, when the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, who took a few lessons in painting, did not think to teach him how to write portraits correctly.

Portrait of Emperor Alexander III with a report in his hands

It is not surprising that the queue for Serov's portraits stretched for several years, as the artist himself approached his artwork with the utmost care and could work for a very long time on one portrait, even though he wrote in the Impressionist style. But Princess Zinaida Yusupova he could not refuse - too rich, influential and respected person she was and had a reputation as a real socialite.

Princess Yusupova in her palace on the Moika River

Everyone who knew her, noted her outstanding intelligence and impeccable manners - unlike the other socialite Princess Olga Orlova, Yusupova was able to emphasize her position, but kept simple and relaxed, it is no coincidence that she managed to charm even the unsociable Serov, who was very difficult to get along with strangers.

Portrait of Princess Olga Orlova

After recovering a little from the luxury of the mansion - the Yusupovs were among the richest people in Russia - Serov suggested posing in the relatively modest, but exceptionally modest by the standards of all the other rooms, drawing room. The princess chose an outfit, asked the artist to keep a spitz dog with her, and the artwork began. It took a total of 80 sessions, Yusupova was already weary of such a long posing, but did not express dissatisfaction. At the end of the artwork they became firm friends, after posing they drank tea and talked about life. And the result of their joint labor was a portrait, although it displeased critics, but still very good, which differed greatly for the better from the standard artwork of salon academicians.

Princess Yusupova in her palace on the Moika River. fragment

However, critics pointed out that Yusupova's pose was far too naive and demeaning - at the time it was already considered fashionable, the composition is simple - a lady on a sofa with a dog, and her face, although it looks socially friendly, does not express any sincere feelings. It got to the point that Yusupova took offense and wanted to cut an oval out of the painting with only her face in it in order to smooth out the cheekiness of the pose and the simplicity of the composition, but then, fortunately, she changed her mind, otherwise it would surely have turned out even worse.

Konstantin Makovsky. Portrait of Princess Zinaida Nikolayevna Yusupova in Russian costume

However, we can compare this portrait of Serov with the painting of the most expensive Russian artist at the time, Konstantin Makovsky, where he depicted Yusupova in a rich Old Russian style, as if she were a boyarina of the XVI century. Everything is beautiful, expensive and rich, but the personality behind all this embellishment is not felt, as if it is not a portrait of a particular person, but an average ideal image of a boyar daughter.

And what do you think, whose portrait is better: Serov or Makovsky - write in the comments.

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