Museums and Art

Portrait of Catherine II (1763), Fedor Stepanovich Rokotov

Portrait of Catherine II (1763), Fedor Stepanovich Rokotov

Portrait of Catherine II - Fedor Stepanovich Rokotov. 155.5 x 139 cm

This portrait was most loved by the Russian Empress Catherine II among all her many ceremonial images. It reflects all the principles of the formation of solemn portraits of the ruling elite and was dedicated to the time of the coronation of the great empress. Her "golden age" is yet to come, but in the portrait she already appears as a great ruler, a powerful and wise "mother of the Fatherland."

In the picture you can find all the traditional principles of the ceremonial image, which refer us to the classical methods of depicting kings, developed back in ancient Rome. In fact, there are a lot of references to this time on the canvas. For example, the composition of the picture with the empress sealed on the throne immediately indicates her dominant position in society, inaccessible to other mortals.

Catherine II is depicted in profile, which is also characteristic of antiquity. Her face is clearly readable against the background of dimly visible classical architecture in the background with a massive column. It looks just like the profiles of the great Roman emperors on coins and medals from antiquity.

The canvas impresses not only with its composition, but also with an abundance of complex parts. For the Empress’s formal attire, the most expensive materials were used - brocade, taffeta, silk, moire, organza and lace, gold embroidery - which are extremely difficult to depict. The artist masterfully coped with his task. He wrote out in detail each element of clothing and jewelry, managing to combine them with color and light so that there is a feeling of integrity and harmony at the highest level.

The color scheme of the ceremonial portrait pleases with its freshness and elegance. The empress’s dress is dominated by delicate and light pearl shades, which are in perfect harmony with her snow-white skin and blonde hair, laid in an intricate fashionable hairstyle of those times. Attention is drawn to two bright contrasting spots, which, however, do not “creep out” to the forefront due to the artist's use of softened, “dusted” shades. This is the scarlet upholstery of the throne in a rich gilt carved wooden frame and a moire order ribbon of blue color, thrown over the sovereign's shoulder. These bright colors and dark massive drapery in the folds in the background break and complement the bright iridescent shades of the coronation rich outfit.

The portrait shows us a strong-willed woman, chosen by God herself to rule her vast country.


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