George Doe great English portrait painter

George Doe
Artist George Doe

Great English portrait painter and creator of the Russian War Gallery

George Doe is a talented English painter and an excellent engraver who worked in the style of romanticism. Painter, who entered the history of art as a virtuoso portrait painter, also worked in the mythological and historical genres, created paintings in the spirit of sentimentalism. George Doe’s work was admired by his contemporaries, so let’s get acquainted with the biography of one of the most fashionable painters of the 19th century, who created the Russian “Military Gallery”.

George Doe, Dignitary in Turkish costume
Dignitary in Turkish costume

Biography of George Doe

George Doe is the firstborn of renowned British printmaker, artist and political cartoonist Philip Dawe. He was born on February 6, 1781, and 20 days later was baptized at St. James’s Church. The father wanted the eldest son to follow in his footsteps, so from an early age he taught the boy the basics of “bread” engraving. George, however, became interested in painting and entered the Royal Academy of Arts, where in 1804 he received the gold medal for “Achilles’ Frenzy at the News of the Death of Patroclus.”

George Doe creates with inspiration in the mythological genre, and his efforts do not go unnoticed. He received two more medals, in 1809 he became a member of the Academy, and in 1814, quite deservedly, an academician. The industrious and inquisitive artist studies the basics of painting, examines the works of old masters, follows new trends in art, is fond of philosophy and literature.

George Doe, Lieutenant General Sir Edward Barnes
Lieutenant General Sir Edward Barnes

In order to accurately convey the shapes and lines of the human body to the canvas, George Doe studies anatomy, attends surgical operations and takes part in autopsies. George Doe hones his craft, writes a lot, wins awards and popularity. At the same time, the master sets himself the main goal to achieve financial well-being, therefore, more and more often he agrees to create portraits for representatives of high society, abandoning mythological and biblical subjects.

Among Dow’s customers are crowned heads, wealthy nobles, successful Londoners.

Over time, the painter acquired patrons in the person of the Duke and Duchess of Kent, Princess Charlotte (Charlotte Augusta of Wales) and Prince Leopold (Leopold I of Belgium), the future King of Belgium.

In 1818, the artist accompanied the Duke of Kent on a trip to the Aachen Congress, where he was supposed to paint a series of portraits of important persons who took part in the establishment of the new borders of Europe. There he was introduced to the Russian Emperor Alexander I, who made the painter a very tempting proposal to create in the Winter Palace a gallery of commanders who fought Napoleon in 1812 (Napulione Buonaparte). The terms were so attractive that the mercantile Dow agreed without hesitation. And in the spring of 1819 he arrived in St. Petersburg.

George Doe, Pavel Alexandrovich Stroganov
Pavel Alexandrovich Stroganov

The war heroes came to the Winter Palace, where the workshop was located, and personally posed for the artist. Dow painted images of warriors who died on the battlefield, or died after the war, based on the memories of friends and relatives, or on the basis of old paintings. It is known that it was possible to immortalize Barclay de Tolly only after a careful study of four different portraits.

There was a lot of work, the painter did not have time to complete the orders.

So he took the artisans, Alexander Vasilievich Polyakov and Wilhelm August (Vasily) Golicke, as assistants. During his stay in Russia, the artist painted 329 portraits for the “Military Gallery”, completed many works to order. The permanent exhibition of heroes of the Patriotic War brought overwhelming success, recognition and an influx of new clients. George Doe achieved what he was striving for he is famous, in demand, rich, for the execution of an order he is paid 800-1000 rubles, which exceeds the price tag of an ordinary artist by 10 times. In 1827, the name Dow thunders all over Europe.

George Doe, Princess Charlotte August of Wales (1796-1817) and Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha
Princess Charlotte August of Wales (1796-1817) and Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha

The painter is a member of the London, St. Petersburg, Vienna, Florentine, Paris and Munich academies. And the Uffizi gallery even asked for his portrait in its collection. It is known that the artist did not paint self-portraits and did not pose for colleagues. Only a few paintings with his image have survived this is an engraving made by an unknown artist, and the posthumous image of the master in a group portrait of Vasily Golik.

After the death of Alexander I, George Doe remained in Russia. He writes for Nicholas II, is friends with Pushkin, works hard. And then the painter showed long-standing health problems he had pulmonary insufficiency since childhood. He returned to London, where he died on October 15, 1829. The master was buried in the crypt of St. Peter.

George Doe, Child sketch
Child sketch
The most famous paintings by George Doe

The artist, who lived a short life (died at the age of 48), left a rich legacy. His compositions are filled with sublime splendor, and the heroes of the works look natural and truthful. Among the most famous paintings by George Doe:

  1. Naomi and Daughters (1804) is an early work based on a biblical storyline. She brought the master one of the gold medals of the London Academy. It is currently in the collection of the British Tate Museum.
  2. “Imogena Found in Bellaria Cave” (circa 1809) a painting based on the play “Cymbeline” by William Shakespeare. The work of art has been honored with a high award from the Royal Academy of Arts.
  3. “Portrait of Alexander I” (1817) the Russian emperor, who ordered George Doe to create a portrait gallery of heroes of the Patriotic War. The ruler is dressed in a green uniform, which is adorned with the Order of St. Andrew and the Swedish Order of the Sword.
  4. “Portrait of Mikhail Kutuzov” (1829) one of the works for the “Military Gallery” of the Winter Palace. Today it is kept in the Hermitage.

George Doe became one of the few portrait painters who made a significant fortune during his lifetime. Distinguished by stinginess, the master surprised his loved ones by adding Golike to his will, defining a lifelong pension to his faithful assistant.

Field Marshal Prince von Blucher (1742-1819)
Field Marshal Prince von Blucher (1742-1819)
Field Marshal August Neidhardt, Count of Gneisenau
Field Marshal August Neidhardt, Count of Gneisenau
General Miguel Ricardo de Alava
General Miguel Ricardo de Alava


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