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The rise and fall of Orest Kiprensky: For which the author of the best portrait of Pushkin was stoned and who saved him

Orest Kiprensky was gladly received in the homes of nobles not only in Russia, but also in France and Italy. His talent has gained recognition in Europe and, it seemed, nothing can interfere with his ascent to fame and fortune. However, a tragic accident at one moment destroyed all his hopes and aspirations. Orest Kiprensky again had to prove step by step his significance in his own country and abroad.

On the road to fame

Kiprensky’s parents recorded serfs Anna Gavrilova and her husband Adam Schwalbe, but the fact that Orest is the illegitimate son of the landowner Dyakonov could not be hidden. However, Alexey Dyakonov himself gave his son free, as soon as he reached the age of 6 years.
At the same time, under the auspices of Dyakonov, Orest Kiprensky was determined at the school at the Academy of Arts. Here, children were given basic knowledge in all subjects, taught languages, and also given the opportunity to understand the basics of drawing. At the age of 15 years in 1797, Orestes became a student at the Academy of Arts, paying particular attention to portraiture and historical painting. Mentors of Kiprensky became Ugryumov and Doyen.

The young man at the beginning of training gained fame as a talented and diligent student, and repeatedly received Academy awards. The best student of the Academy after graduation could apply for the so-called retirement trip to Europe to improve their artistic skills. Despite the fact that Orest Kiprensky was one of the best, at the end of the Academy he could not win the trip.

The young artist did not fall into despair. The director of the Academy went to meet the talented student and his patron Alexei Stroganov and allowed Kiprensky to study at the Academy further for another three years.

A year later, in 1804, the artist first participated in an exhibition of the Academy with a portrait of his official father Abram Schwalbe. And already in 1805, Kiprensky presented the painting “Dmitry Donskoy on the Kulikovo Field” to participate in the competition for the Academy’s Big Gold Medal. This time, luck was on his side, and he received the right to a retirement trip to Europe. True, it was postponed due to the Napoleonic wars.

The artist went on a long-awaited creative trip to Europe only in 1816, having managed to earn fame in the homeland of one of the most talented portrait painters. The retirement trip took place largely thanks to the patronage of Empress Elizabeth Alekseevna, who appreciated the artistic talent of the master.

The artist first visited Germany, then went to Rome, where he not only studied Italian art, but also continued to write. The portraits and historical paintings of Kiprensky drew the attention of the Florentine Academy and soon the painter received an offer to paint his portrait for the Uffizi Gallery, where self-portraits of the most famous artists were exhibited. This was an unconditional recognition, because Kiprensky was one of the first Russian painters awarded such an honor.

Around the same time, he painted a portrait of “A Girl in a Poppy Wreath,” for which Anna Maria Falcucci posed for him. In different sources, the story of the little model is presented in different ways. In some, the girl is called the daughter of the adult model of the artist, in others they indicate: a completely different woman brought the baby to the artist.

Kiprensky was imbued with almost paternal feelings for the little Italian and was seriously concerned about her fate. The tragic events that took place in the painter’s house abruptly changed the fate of both Orest Adamovich himself and his little pupil.

One day, the artist’s model was brutally murdered. She was wrapped in a canvas and simply set on fire. Orest Kiprensky considered the murderer of a woman to be his servant, who died several days after the murder. However, persistent rumors circulated that the artist himself was involved in the death of the model.

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