Kimbell Art Museum Exhibition Catalog
June 5 - August 8, 1982

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Catalog Number 49

Art Page 27
Oil oncanvas
54 1/2 x 39 1/2 inches (138.5x 100.3 cm.)
Signedlower left: Vigee Le Brun a petersbourg Private Collection

Catherine Feodorovna Dolgorouky (1769-1849) was the daughter of Prince Theodore Sergueivitch Bariatinsky - one of the assassins of Peter III and Grand-Marshal of the Russian court under Catherine II -and Princess Maria Vassilievna Khovansky. In 1786, she married Lieutenant-General Prince Basil Vassilievitch Dolgorouky (1752-1812), by whom she had five children. Her salon was among the most fashionable in Saint Petersburg, and Mme Vigee Le Brun commented upon it at length in her memoirs. During the reign of Catherine II the Bariatinsky family enjoyed immense favor, but upon the accession of Paul I, they were forced into exile. Princess Dolgorouky settled in Paris where she renewed her friendship with the artist. Having incurred the displeasure of Napoleon, she moved to Italy and from there to Austria. She had been widowed by the time she returned to Russia in 1812. In 1826 she became lady-in-waiting to the Czarina and late in her life was decorated with the Grand Cross of Saint Catherine.

The pose and costume are derived from a portrait that Princess Dolgorouky had enthusiastically admired in the artist's studio, Lady Hamilton as a Sibyl (fig. 37). Mme Le Brun was struck by the exotic beauty of her subjeccs features which she describes in her memoirs as "essentially Greek in character with something Jewish, especially in the profile. Her long, loosely arranged chestnut-brown hair fell to her shoulders. She was admirably proportioned, and her entire bearing was both noble and graceful without the slightest affectation" (Souvenirs, IL 275).

The marble table holds a still-life of books and musical scores, all of which are identifiable: Abbe Jean Jacques Barthelemy's Voyage du jeune Anacharsis, first published in Paris in 1788; a French translation of John Locke's 1693 treatise entitled Some Thoughts Concerning Education (De l'iducation des enfants); the score of the comic-opera Nina, ou la folle par amour, composed by Nicolas Dalayrac in 1786 with a libretto by Marsolier de Vivetieres, and that of jean - Paul Martiny's Catnille oti la souterraine.

As payment for her work, Vigee Le Brun received a handsome carriage and a'bracelet bearing an inscription in diamonds: Ornez celle qui orne son siecle (Adorn her who adorns her century).

An anonymous copy of the portrait, measuring 36 x 26.5 cm., is in the State Museum Palace of Alupka in the Ukraine.

PROVENANCE: Prince P. Dolgorouky, Moscow; Count Anatole Vladimirovitch Orloff-Davidoff.

EXHIBITIONS: Saint Petersburg, Taurida Palace, Artistic and Historical Exhibition of Russian Portraits, 1905, no. 231; Johannesburg, Art Gallery, Three Centuries of French Painting: Franqois I- Napoleon I, March-April 1974, no number, illus. (exhibition also held at Cape Town, South African National Gallery, April-May 1974).

SELECTED REFERENCES: Souvenirs 11, 332; Grand Duke Nicholas Mikhailovitch, 1908, IV, no. 19, illus.; Nolhac, 1908, pp. 112,160, illus. facing p. 112; S. Gorianinoff, "Les Impressions artistiques du roi Stanislas Auguste durant son se'j'our a Saint-P6tersbourg en 1797," Starye Gody, October-December 1908, p. 607, illus. p. 587; Helm, [1915], p. 194, Blum, 1919, pp. 69-70; Nikolenko, 1967, pp. 93, 105-106, cited under no. 18, illus. p. 106, fig. 18a (author wrongly assumes that the original version of the painting is in Alupka and claims, also incorrectly, that Helm, cited above, confounds the portrait of Countess Golovin with that of Princess Dolgorouky); D. Sutton, "Russian Francophiles of the Dix- huitieme," Apollo, Cl, No. 160, June 1975, p. 426, illus. fig. 9.

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