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One of the best portrait painters in the history of world painting, Fedor Stepanovich Rokotov created an extensive gallery of portraits of contemporaries: important dignitaries, noble ladies, military leaders. One of the many is a portrait of Ivan Grigorievich Orlov, a personality in many respects legendary and very extraordinary.
The portrait was painted approximately between 1762 and 1765; it was not possible to establish a more accurate time for the creation of art critics and historians. The character depicted on the canvas is an outstanding personality not only in relation to his surroundings, but throughout the whole of Russian history.
Count Ivan Orlov is the eldest of the five famous Orlov brothers who became famous overnight after the accession to the throne of Catherine II. However, in contrast to the direct participants in the palace coup, Alexei and Gregory, Ivan was not at all attracted to life at court.
The purpose of his life, he considered service to the family, for which he took full responsibility as a teenager, after the death of his father. All the remarkable strengths of Ivan Grigoryevich were aimed at maintaining and strengthening the economy, increasing the already huge family capital. His authority in the family was undeniable, the brothers immensely respected the "old woman."
An attractive middle-aged man is looking at a curious audience from a portrait. A syringe made of expensive discreet material, a neckerchief of thin elegant lace, emphasize the high status of the character. Gilded buttons fastened the floor of the frock coat, only the top was casually unfastened, giving the count's appearance a certain “homework”.
According to the canons of the image of persons, Rokotov brilliantly managed to convey not only the impressive appearance of the count, but also convey the essence of his amazing character. On his face is a polite, cool half-smile of a secular nobleman who is aware of his position and status. The graying hair is twisted in fashion in letters. The look gives out the features of the nature of Orlov Sr.: an extraordinary mind, firmness of character, self-confidence, a calm feeling of great power. The nobleman as if appreciates through the canvas his viewer, previously confident in his superiority.
An important detail is noteworthy: the absence of any related objects that create additional surroundings near the count. The painters deliberately avoided including any details in the picture that could distract attention from the personality of their character. A plain background behind him is slightly highlighted near Orlov’s face and darkened away from his figure.
The portrait is kept in the collection of the State Tretyakov Gallery.
Michelangelo Separation of Light from Darkness