Lot 22
  • 22

Vladimir Lukich Borovikovsky

800,000 - 1,200,000 GBP
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  • Vladimir Lukich Borovikovsky
  • Portrait of Ardalion Petrovich Novosiltsev
  • signed in Cyrillic and dated 1807 l.l.; further inscribed on the reverse in a different hand

  • oil on canvas
  • 73 by 60.3cm, 29 by 23 3/4 in.


Sotheby's London, The Russian Sale, 14 December 1995, lot 104
Collection of John Stuart, London


Structural Condition The canvas appears unlined and is securely attached to a keyed wooden stretcher. This is providing an even and stable structural support. There are two inscriptions and a stamp on the reverse of the canvas. There is evidence of several old repairs to the canvas visible on the reverse. Paint Surface The paint surface has an even varnish layer. There is a pattern of drying craquelure throughout the composition. This appears entirely stable and is not visually distracting. There are some thin slightly raised horizontal lines of craquelure most notably in the upper right of the composition and below the upper horizontal edge, some slightly raised lines in the lower part of the composition and a thin diagonal line in the upper left corner. These all appear stable at present. Inspection under ultra-violet light shows small, scattered retouchings within the sitter's face, scattered retouchings and strengthening within his jacket, scattered retouchings within the background and trees and in the lower right corner of the composition and some retouchings corresponding to the lines of slightly raised craquelure mentioned above. Summary The painting would therefore appear to be in good and stable condition.
"This lot is offered for sale subject to Sotheby's Conditions of Business, which are available on request and printed in Sotheby's sale catalogues. The independent reports contained in this document are provided for prospective bidders' information only and without warranty by Sotheby's or the Seller."

Catalogue Note

During her travels through southern Russia in 1787, it is said that Catherine the Great stayed in a house in which hung two paintings by the young Borovikovsky, who had originally been trained by his father in icon painting. Such was their impressive quality that the Empress invited Borovikovsky to relocate from his native Mirgorod to St Petersburg, which he did the following year. From 1792 onwards he trained under Johann Baptist Lampi the Elder, who had also recently moved to the capital at Catherine’s invitation; by the mid-1790s Borovikovsky had established himself as one of the leading portrait artists among St Petersburg’s fashionable elite.

The present portrait shows Ardalion Petrovich Novosiltsev (dates unknown), who came from a family of Orlov landowners. His grandfather, Ivan Novosiltsev, was promoted to nobility when he was granted the title ober-ofizer during the reign of Elizabeth Petrovna. Ardalion Petrovich is depicted here in full court uniform, as befitting his rank of Gentleman of the Bedchamber.

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.