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H.-F.-G. Viollier "Grand Duchess Elizabeth Alexeevna of Russia", 1797/98, sensational find!!
FINAL DISCOUNT PRICE= 6500 USD
( for EUR price see date rate )
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This miniature was offered in the late 2016 at one of German auction houses as a presumable work of Munich female miniaturist Franzisca Schoepfer ("Portrait of an elegant lady in front of a forest background"). Having examined the pre-sale online catalogue, we promptly identified this superior quality drawing (according to its sitter's dress and hairstyle, it was executed in the late 1790s) as:
a) indisputable portrait of the young wife of Russian Crown Prince, Grand Duke Alexander Pavlovich (and from 1801 - Tsar Alexander I) - Grand Duchess Elizabeth Alexeevna, nee Princess Louise of Baden (1779-1826; CLICK HERE).
b) What is more, we realized at once that this 1st-class drawing was made by a St. Petersburg miniaturist who had just recently been exposed to 1797 (sic!) portrait of Elizabeth Alexeievna (see our image nr.8) painted by the famous French female artist Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun (the latter worked in Russia from 1795; CLICK HERE). As one sees, the author of our piece chose to add a (typical for his works!) forest landscape to the background of the composition and to exchange the pillow, on which Grand Duchess rests her hand, for a stone.
Yet, who was this miniaturist?
Our comparison images nr.9-13 convincingly confirm that this work is truly a sensational discovery: the author of this miniature was none other than Swiss-born miniaturist (and from 1797 - the Royal "inspector of cabinet miniatures") Henri-François-Gabriel Viollier, who had then just arrived to St. Petersburg after his seven-year-ban in Moscow.
Henri Francois Gabriel Viollier was born in 1750 in Geneva into a family of a goldsmith. He spent his youth in France. In 1774 he entered the service of Grand Duke of Wuerttemberg. Viollier's earliest works are dated 1776-1778. In 1780 he came to Russia. In 1781-1782 he accompanied Grand Duke Paul and his wife Maria Fedorovna on their journey through Europe. In 1784 he was appointed as an artist at the Court of Grand Duke Paul and "inspector of cabinets and galleries". In 1785 the St. Petersburg Imperial Academy granted him a title of a "naznachenny" ("appointed") artist. In the 1780s he was active in various artistic fields: decoration of the palace and garden pavilions in Pavlovsk, architectural construction projects in Gatchina and (later) of Michailovski Palace in St. Petersburg.
After 1791 he lived in Moscow (sic!). In 1797 Viollier was appointed "Inspector of cabinet of miniatures" in St. Petersburg and raised in rank to "nadvorny sovetnik" (court councilor). In 1800 he married Russian woman Elena Salina and lived with her until January 1806 in Pavlovsk. He then lived in Germany (Wiesbaden), then - in Paris. In 1812 he returned to Russia, where he died in 1829 in St. Petersburg.
Works of Henri Francois Gabriel Viollier are on display in the Hermitage and the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg, at Pavlovsk Museum, Moscow Tretyakov Gallery and State Historical Museum, Museum of Kremlin, etc.
CLICK HERE FOR OTHER WORKS OF THIS ARTIST IN OUR POSSESSION
We add also that convincing argument for Viollier's authorship provides also latter's regular use of composition methods of famous artists of his time - besides our case with Vigee-Lebrun's composition we show example of Viollier's use of composition of one of miniatures by Jean-Jacques Jean Augustin (see our images nr.20-21).
Creation Year: 1797/98
Measurements: UNFRAMED:9,9x9,9cm/3,9x3,9in FRAMED: 29,0x29,0cm/11,4x11,4in
Object Type: Framed drawing
Style: Portrait Miniatures
Technique: indian ink and brown wash on paper (tondo); laid on mount
Creator: Henri Francois Gabriel Viollier
To see other works by this artist click on the name above!
Creator Dates: 1750 Geneva-1829 St. Petersburg
Nationality: Swiss / Russian
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