Alexsei Antropov (Алексей Петрович Антропов) (1716-1795)

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Self-Portrait 1784

Self-Portrait 1784

 

Alexsei Antropov was a Russian barocco painter active primarily in St. Petersburg, where he was born and died. He also worked in Moscow and fresco-ed churches in Kiev. His preferred medium was oil, but he also painted miniatures and icons.

Portrait of a Woman 1760's

Portrait of a Woman 1760’s

 

Alexei was born to a family of government official working in Armory and in the Department of Building (kantselyatiya stroeniy). Since 1732 Alexei also working at the same department under his relative A. Matveyev, since 1739 he is a member of the painting team (zhivopisnaja komanda) of the Department under Ivan Vishnyakov. As the member of the team Alexei took part in fresoeing of Summer Palace, Winter Palace, Anichkov Palace and other buildings of Saint Petersburg. He also studied portrait art from the court painter Louis Caravaque of France. In 1749 Alexei received the rank of the Painter’s apprentice (zhivopisniy podmasterye) and in the end of 1750’s the rank of the Master Painter (zhivopisniy master).

Ataman Krasnoschekov 1761

Ataman Krasnoschekov 1761

 

In 1752-1755 he worked on the interiors of the St Andrew’s Church of Kiev. He supervised the installation of the iconostasis, frescoed cupolas and walls. The most prominent of his frescoes in the church is the Last Supper in the altar. He started to paint portraits before his Kiev period. The earliest known portraits of his are portraits of Elizabeth of Russia. He did not meet his model but based the paintings on the works of his teacher, Louis Caravaque. In 1755-1757 he worked in Moscow frescoeing the Golovkin palace. Here he met prince Ivan Shuvalov who supported Antropov’s works for the rest of his life.

Elizabeth Petrovna

Elizabeth Petrovna

 

In 1757 – 1759 Antropov returned to Saint-Petersburg and learned art from court painter Pietro Rotari of Italy. Historians consider his portrait of A.M. Izmaylova to be a sort of a graduation work. The 1760ies were probably the most productive period of the artist. He painted many good portraits among the Portrait of Ataman Krasnoschekov, Portrait of Rumyantseva. Ivan Shuvalov planed to move him to Moscow, so Antropov could teach art the the Moscow University. For some reason this plan was canceled and Antropov instead got the job at the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, there he supervised icon painting, decorating of the churches, drew the portraits of church hierarchs and supervised art students. Among his apprentices was Dmitry Levitzky, who actually lived in the house of his teacher.

Peter III at Military Camp 1762

Peter III at Military Camp 1762

 

In 1762 Peter III of Russia became the new Emperor. Antropov soon became his favorite painter. For the six month of Peter III rule Antropov painted at least four of his portraits. After the palace revolt the new Emperess, Catherine II was of much lower opinion of the talents of Antropov. At that time the artists appreciated the soft combinations of colors and some sort of a fine flattering on the parade portraits. Antropov at that time somehow evolved back to the traditions of icon and parsuna portraits based on the sharp contrast of colors and dark background.

Catherine II

Catherine II

 

In 1789 Antropov made a personal sacrifice transferring his only house to the Department of Education for organization a Free School (narnoe uchilische) there. In 1795 Antropov died of fever and was buried on the Tikhvin Cemetery at the Alexander Nevsky Monastery, in Saint Petersburg. Still wondering about an 18th century Russian painting in your family collection? Contact us…it could be by Alexsei Antropov.