Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Title Sculptural Portraits à l’antique: to the Problem of Iconographic Identification
Author email
About author Karpova, Elena Veniaminovna — Ph. D., Head of the Department of Sculpture of the 18th – early 20th century. the State Russian Museum, Inzhenernaia St., 4, 191186 St. Petersburg, Russian Federation
In the section Russian Art of the 18th–19th Centuries. Russian View of Classical Tradition DOI10.18688/aa155-6-64
Year 2015 Volume 5 Pages 590596
Type of article RAR Index UDK 73.03 Index BBK 85.13

Classicism introduced a characteristic antiquitization of an individual depicted on sculptural portraits. Uniforms and medals, which could be used to accurately establish the time when a work was created and the nationality and social position of an individual, were left in the past. Museum practice shows that in course of studying such a portrait à l’antique, the determination of its previously unknown provenance plays a special role. Thus, the Portrait of an Unknown Man by Josef Kirchmayer (1818, State Russian Museum) from the Leuchtenberg collection shows Prince Eugene de Beauharnais (1781–1824), the founder of the Leuchtenberg family. An additional complication to the study of portraits à l’antique is scarce information about its creators. The attribution of the Portrait of a Soldier (1825, State Hermitage), a work by minor Italian sculptor Giulio Kravari is an example of the case where an iconographic research obtains special importance: the study revealed that it is a marble bust of Count Pavel Shuvalov (1776–1823).
An attempt to solve the dilemma of “looks like/does not look like” can often lead to highly subjective conclusions. Sculpture, however, with its inherent three-dimensionality and the possibility to see the depicted face foreshortened in different ways, allows us to get a more complete understanding of the appearance of the portrayed person. This helps us to reject the existing incorrect attributions. An example of such is the renaming of the so-called Portrait of Nicholas I, a work by Tomasz Oskar Sosnowski from the National Museum, Warsaw. An archival survey was a way to gather information for renaming that bust as that of Count Fiodor Berg (1794–1874).

Reference Elena Karpova. Sculptural Portraits à l’antique: to the Problem of Iconographic Identification. Actual Problems of Theory and History of Art: Collection of articles. Vol. 5. Eds: Svetlana V. Maltseva, Ekaterina Yu. Stanyukovich-Denisova, Anna V. Zakharova. St. Petersburg, NP-Print Publ., 2015, pp. 590–596. ISSN 2312-2129.
Publication Article language russian
  • Kaczmarzyk D. Rzeźba polska od XVI do początku XX wieku. Katalog zbiorów (Polish sculpture from the 16th to the early 20th century. Catalogue of the collection). Warszawa, Muzeum Narodowe w Warszawie Publ., 1973. 262 p. (in Polish).
  • Karpova E. V. Unknown Bust of Count P. A. Shuvalov. Khudozhestvennyi vestnik (Art Bulletin), 2009, no. 3, pp. 44–48 (in Russian).
  • Karpova E. V. Russkaia i zapadnoevropeiskaia skul’ptura XVIII – nachala XX veka. Novye materialy. Nakhodki. Аtributsii (Russian and Western European Sculpture of the 18th – early 20th century. New materials. Finds. Attributions). Saint Petersburg, Iskusstvo Publ., 2009. 608 p. (in Russian).
  • Lameńki L. Tomasz Oscar Sosnowski, 1810–1886, rzeźbiarz polski w Rzymie (Thomas Oscar Sosnowski, 1810—1886, A Polish Sculptor in Rome). Lublin, KUL Publ., 1997. 339 p. (in Polish).
  • Mikhailovskii-Danilevskii А. I. Memuary (Memoirs): 1814–1815. Saint Petersburg, The Russian National library Publ., 2001. 400 p. (in Russian).
  • Mikocka-Rachubowa K. Rzeźba polska XIX wieku. Od klasycyzmu do symbolizmu. Katalog zbiorów (Polish Sculpture of the 19th century. From Classicism to Symbolism. Catalogue of the collection). Warszawa, Muzeum Narodowe w Warszawie Publ., 1993. 150 p. (in Polish).
  • Panzetta A. Nuovo Dizionario degli scultori italiani dell’Ottocento e del primo Novecento, vol. A–L. Torino, Ad Arte Publ., 2003. 548 p. (in Italian).
  • Presnov G. M. Gosudarstvennyi Russkii muzei. Skul’ptura. Putevoditel’ (The State Russian Museum. Sculpture. Guide). Leningrad — Moscow, Iskusstvo Publ., 1940. 116 p. (in Russian).
  • Presnov G. M.; Fadeeva L. V. Gosudarstvennyi Russkii muzei. Skul’ptura. XVIII – nachalo XX veka. Katalog (The State Russian Museum. Sculpture. 18th – early 20th century. Catalogue). Leningrad, Iskusstvo Publ., 1988. 320 p. (in Russian).
  • Schaden A. von. Artistisches München im Jahre 1835. München, J. G. Fleischmann Publ. 1836. 188 p. (in German).