L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Catherine II, by Vigilius Eriksen, 1762 - 1764

The Danish painter Eriksen completed several portraits of the young Empress, but this is my favorite.  I love the composition of the painting, the charming conceit of the mirror revealing a second view of the subject.  But mostly, I love the contrast between those two views, the accidental (?) illustration of the two opposing halves of the Empress' character: the refined and cultured European who turns to us, gracefully feminine, and the fierce intelligence, the formidable drive and determination that the reflected profile reveals.


  1. What a glorious portrait! And of course, I love the extremity of her panniers. Only in Russia did the panniers angle up in the way they do in this portrait. Other countries did have a slight upward trend to them, but in Russia it was far more pronounced.

  2. The style of dress is a Mantua, de rigour at courts around europe and totally impractical as an article of clothing.