106
106

PROPERTY FROM A NOBLE FRENCH FAMILY

George Dawe
PORTRAIT OF TSAR ALEXANDER I
Estimation
60 00080 000
Lot. Vendu 134,500 GBP (Prix d’adjudication avec commission acheteur)
ACCÉDER AU LOT
106

PROPERTY FROM A NOBLE FRENCH FAMILY

George Dawe
PORTRAIT OF TSAR ALEXANDER I
Estimation
60 00080 000
Lot. Vendu 134,500 GBP (Prix d’adjudication avec commission acheteur)
ACCÉDER AU LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Russian Paintings

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George Dawe
1781 - 1829
PORTRAIT OF TSAR ALEXANDER I
signed in Latin, inscribed and dated St P 1826 l.r.
oil on canvas
88 by 58 cm, 34 1/2 by 22 3/4 in.
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Provenance

A gift from Tsar Nicolas I to Pierre-Louis-Auguste, comte de la Ferronnays, Pair de France, French Ambassador in Saint Petersburg from 1820 to 1827
Thence by descent to the present owners

Description

In 1818, Alexander I invited the British artist George Dawe RA to St Petersburg to create what is now the War Gallery in the Winter Palace, painting the portraits of 329 Russian generals in the process. Over the course of the next ten years Dawe established for himself a glittering and extremely successful career in Russia, and was named First Portrait Painter to the Russian Court by the Tsar.

Dawe became a favourite of the Emperor, who gave him a large studio in the Imperial Winter Palace, paying generously for his work. In spring 1823, Dawe wrote with evident pride to a friend in London, ‘The Emperor has given me a sitting about a week ago. He will give me as many as I require and I fancy I shall make a very successful picture. His kindness and politeness are boundless…’. The Emperor sat for this first portrait in Tsarskoe Selo, and in 1824 Dawe completed this now famous depiction of Alexander in the uniform of the Preobrazhensky Guards wearing Russian and foreign orders, tricorne in hand. Contemporaries remarked on the ‘extraordinary likeness’ and called it 'the most successful depiction of the monarch’. The official image was reproduced on porcelain, miniatures and in engravings.

Dawe himself subsequently completed a number of large and smaller-scale versions of this work. These author’s versions were given as presents by both Alexander I and Nicholas I to relations, official delegates and foreign ambassadors – as is the case with the present work, for which the impeccable line of provenance traces it directly to Pierre-Louis-Auguste, comte de la Ferronnays, French Ambassador to Russia from 1820 to 1827, whose period in Russia overlapped almost exactly with Dawe’s own. He would later become Minister of Foreign Affairs in Paris.

The present work is painted in the small format often preferred by Dawe. Similar portraits of Alexander I dated between 1825 and 1826 with near identical dimensions are now in the Wellington Museum at Apsley House, London; the Royal Collection in the Netherlands; the State Russian Museum in St Petersburg and elsewhere.

We are grateful to Dr Galina Andreeva, author of Geniuses of War, Weal and Beauty. George Dawe. RA Pinx, Moscow: Pinakoteka, 2012, for her help cataloguing this lot.

Russian Paintings

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Londres