Vasilii Andreevich Tropinin
- Vasily Andreevich Tropinin
- Portrait of Mouromtzev, 1854
- signed in Cyrillic and dated 1854_ (lower right)
- oil on canvas
- 28 1/8 by 23 1/8 in.
- 71.4 by 58.7 cm
Vasilii Tropinin was a painter of genre scenes and the creator of a whole gallery of portraits of his contemporaries (among them a famous portrait of the poet Alexander Pushkin). This blend of genre and portraiture became the hallmark of Tropinin's oeuvre, which weaves Romantic and realistic features. In his early works, Tropinin was particularly close to the Sentimentalist tradition of the earlier, eighteenth-century generation. He continued working through the 1850s. Portrait of Muromtsev belongs to Tropinin's late and mature phase, when his work strongly influenced the development of nineteenth-century Russian portraiture.
Tropinin was a serf until the age of forty-five. In 1804, soon after beginning his studies at the St. Petersburg Academy of Fine Arts, he was recalled by his owner, the general Irakly Markov, who kept him on his estate and made him work as a pastry chef and a butler. While working for Markov, he was also receiving commissions for various portraits. Tropinin was finally granted his freedom in 1823. He submitted his paintings to the Academy of Fine Arts and was named an Academician.
Portrait of Muromtsev comes from the collection of Mikhail Morozov (Morosoff; 1870-1903), a historian, journalist, and noted collector of modern French art. Beginning in 1893-94 a lively circle of cultural figures started gathering at Morozov's Moscow mansion. Important Russian artists such as Konstantin Korovin, Mikhail Vrubel, and Valentin Serov became permanent members of the Morozov circle. Morozov continually purchased paintings by major Russian artists. His collection, acquired in just five years, grew on a yearly basis, consisting of artworks purchased in both Russia and abroad. His tastes rapidly progressed and he began collecting works by French artists like Manet, Renoir, Degas, and Monet. Morozov demonstrated particular courage and insight by acquiring Gauguin and Van Gogh, who were not yet appreciated at that time.
After Morozov's death, his widow, Margarita Kirillovna (1873-1958), inherited the collection. The portrait remained in Morozov's family for generations, and it was ultimately inherited by Morozov's granddaughter.