Prior to its appearance at Sotheby’s in 1995 the portrait was unknown to scholars, and although there is no documented record of Borovikovsky having painted Ardalion Petrovich Novosiltsev, his series of portraits of the other members of the present sitter’s family is well-known. This ‘Novosiltsev family series’ consist of portraits of Petr Ivanovich Novosiltsev, general and senator (fig.2); his wife, Ekaterina Alexandrovna (fig.1, née Torsukova) who was the niece of Maria Perekusikhina, the famous confidant of Catherine II; and three of their sons - Nikolai, Petr and Ivan (figs.3-5). But Petr Ivanovich and Ekaterina Alexandrovna had six sons in all, so it is entirely logical to presume that the other children also sat for Borovikovsky. Only the eldest of these brothers, Vasily, could not have been painted by the artist since he died aged 17 of a wound he had received during the first 1805 war with France.
The portraits of the three brothers Ivan, Nikolai and Petr, all share the same dimensions (approximately 70 by 60cm) and are closely comparable to the present work. The two missing portraits are those of the brothers Alexander and Ardalion, who were living and working in St Petersburg during this same period at which the other family members are known to have been painted. The appearance of a portrait of Ardalion, in the view of V.P.Stark, is therefore entirely reasonable (V.P.Stark, ‘Tri portreta. Nakhodki i opredeleniya’, Khudozhstvenny vestnik, 2007, no.3).
We would like to thank Dr Ludmila Markina for providing additional catalogue information.
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