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There is one very mysterious and magnificent painting in the State Museum of St. Petersburg. Its author is a Russian portrait painter Ivan Nikitin. An oval inscribed in a rectangle represents the figure of a mature man.
The military uniform speaks about the activities of this person. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the commanders of Cossack field detachments dressed like that. Historians and art historians argued a lot about who is depicted in the picture. After all, Nikitin himself created under the auspices of Peter the Great and painted mainly significant, well-known figures. But research never revealed the secret of the depicted face.
“Portrait of a floor hetman” - an inscription on the reverse side of the canvas. It can testify that the person depicted is a collective image of the military commanders of the Petrine era. And although this face was not known to the whole world, the picture eventually became famous outside the place of its creation.
But the thing is that Ivan Nikitin was the first painter of the Russian Empire, who abandoned the traditional icon-painting style and worked, as it was then popular in Europe.
Most portraits of the 18th century show people of high rank, endowed with power and wealth. Artists paid more attention to the external attributes of social status: jewelry, clothing.
The psychological characteristic of the depicted was faceless, the faces resembled lifeless masks, devoid of souls. And only Nikitin dared to look into the souls of his models, pushing everything external to second place.
The floor hetman is depicted as realistically as possible: the caftan is slightly open, the hairstyle is not touched by a comb. His gaze testifies to a harsh life, full of not always joyful events.
A man who knows war is depicted in a muffled palette. The dark brown color, slightly diluted with gold, bluish and coral, creates a dramatic effect. Frowning faces, gray hair, tired but attentive eyes tell about the life of a military commander of the era of Peter I.
Painting by Pablo Picasso Guernica