Style: Portraits, Realist
Background: Vladimir Lukich Borovikovskii was born on July 24, 1757 in Mirgorod. He was an Russian and Ukrainian portrait artist.
Education: Until 1788, Borovikovskii lived in Mirgorod and studied under his father and uncle, who were icon artists, painting icons and portraits still close in many ways to the traditions of Ukrainian art of pre-Petrine times. From the end of 1788 he lived in St. Petersburg, where at first he was counseled by D. G. Levitskii, and from 1792 he studied with I. B. Lampi. Borovikovskii’s philosophic and aesthetic views were also influenced by his closeness to V. V. Kapnist, G. R. Derzha-vin, and particularly N. A. L’vov.
Achievements: At the beginning of the 1790’s, in addition to compositions on religious subjects, he began to paint miniatures (portrait of V. V. Kapnist in the Russian Museum, Leningrad) and mainly intimate portraits that resembled miniatures in treatment (Lizyn’ka and Dashin’ka,1794, and Torzhkov Peasant Woman Khristiniia, c. 1795—bothinthe Tret’iakov Gallery). In 1795 his portraits earned him the title of academician, and in 1802 that of adviser to the St. Petersburg Academy of Art.
From the second half of the 1790’s, Borovikovskii’s portraits exhibited traits of strongly marked sentimentalism. In distinction to the official class portrait, Borovikovskii developed the depiction of the “private” man, with his simple, natural feelings most fully expressed far from the “world,” on nature’s breast. Tender, faded colors, light, transparent brushstrokes, and flowing, melodious rhythms create a lyrical, dreamy, and elegiac mood. Borovikovskii’s images, especially his portraits of women, are marked by a common idyllic mood, despite the differences in the fresh and vital treatment of the models’ individual aspects. Borovikovskii painted his people (portraits of M. I. Lopukhina, 1797, Tret’iakov Gallery, and V. I. Arsen’eva, 1795, Russian Museum) slightly averted, with bowed head, lost in tender reflection, against the background of a park landscape suffused with a soft haze. Borovikovskii painted the Russian empress (Catherine II Taking a Walk in Tsarskoie selo Park, 1794, Tret’iakov Gallery; the early 19th century version is in the Russian Museum) wearing a coat and walking her Italian greyhound along an avenue. From the beginning of the 19th century, Borovikovskii’s works (especially his formal portraits of A. B. Kurakin, 1801–02, Tret’iakov Gallery, and Pavel I, 1800, Russian Museum) became more prosaic while the painting style, under the influence of classicism, grew energetic and clearly defined (portrait of an unknown woman wearing a turban, probably the writer A. L. G. de Staël, 1812, Tret’iakov Gallery).