Orest Adamovich Kiprensky (Orest Adamovich Kiprensky; born March 24, 1782 – died October 17, 1836) was a Russian artist, the founder of the romantic portrait of the early 19th century, which gained recognition in Europe. The creativity of Orest Kiprensky fell on a stormy, heroic time. His paintings depict the heroes of the war of 1812, the future Decembrists, and famous writers.
Orest Kiprensky was born near St. Petersburg into a serf family on March 24, 1782. He was the illegitimate child of the landowner Alexei Dyakonov, while formally the boy’s father was the serf peasant Adam Schwalbe. Orestes was baptized in the town of Koporye, from him he received the nickname Koporsky, later the artist modified him into a sonorous surname. Orest Kiprensky received his freedom as a child. The stepfather noticed that the child had a penchant for painting and showed his drawings to Dyakonov, the landowner arranged for a six-year-old boy in a school at the Art Academy. In addition to art, Orestes studied science and foreign languages there.
In 1797 Kiprensky began his studies at the Academy. And at the exhibition in 1804 he presented the first portrait depicting Adam Schwalbe. The painter used a glazing technique, when an almost transparent layer of paint is superimposed on the main color. In 1805, the young artist wrote the work “Dmitry Donskoy on the Kulikovo field”. It earned him the Grand Gold Medal, as well as the right to travel to Italy. But the trip had to be postponed, as military operations unfolded in Europe.
After graduating from the Academy, Orest Kiprensky receives many orders.
He writes to famous contemporaries, leads a secular lifestyle. The painter glorified the portrait of the boy Alexander Chelishchev, who in the future became a hero of the war of 1812.
The artist painted magnificent portraits of commanders, sailors, Decembrists. Kiprensky possessed a unique gift to portray a person in joyful moments of life, moments of spiritual enlightenment. In 1816, the master finally went abroad. The Florentine Academy asked him to paint a self-portrait for the famous Uffizi gallery – Orest Kiprensky was the first Russian painter to receive such an honor.
The master worked successfully in Italy, until the dead model was found in the workshop of Orestes. And although the authorities did not bring charges of murder, this case negatively affected the further life of the painter. In 1822 he returned to his native Petersburg, but was received coldly. During the long absence of Kiprensky, the public had new favorites, portrait painters. The artist had few orders. He was supported by Count Dmitry Sheremetyev, who invited Orest to become a personal painter. In 1828 Kiprensky left Russia forever. He went to Italy again, but there, too, he encountered increased competition. In Naples, Orest Adamovich continued to paint portraits, but he also spent a lot of time in restaurants with a glass of wine.
In Italy, the artist married a matured model, from whom he once painted a portrait of a little girl.
But soon after the wedding, Kiprensky fell ill with pneumonia and died on October 17, 1836, without waiting for the birth of his daughter Clotilde.
Orest Kiprensky, a true master of portraiture, inherited a fate worthy of a novel: illegitimate birth, an invented surname, real success at home and abroad, and then a chilling out of the public. His talent amazes with its power, which was fully appreciated by descendants.