Sale Sotheby’s London, December 1, 2004, lot 30
Private collection, USA
W. Salmond, R.E. Martin, W. Zeisler, Konstantin Makovsky: The Tsar’s Painter in America and Paris, Hillwood, 2016, illustrated
In the 1880’s, Konstantin Makovsky became interested in the opulent boyar life. In the following years, he created a number of large-scale multi-figure compositions based on this theme, including A Boyar Wedding Feast, 1883, now at the Hillwood Museum, Washington, D.C., and The Russian Bride’s Attire, 1887, the San Francisco Museum of Fine Arts, that earned him the admiration of Alexander II.
These ambitious works were built up from smaller portrait studies of Boyars and Boyarinas, such as the present work. Russian Beauty is an exceptionally fine example of this genre, it is particularly notable for the finely rendered details: intricately embroidered garments and pearl-encrusted kokoshnik underscore Makovsky’s virtuosity, while the young girl’s delicate features, softly modelled and slightly blurred, recall the gentle mastery of Renaissance artists.