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Portrait of a Young Man in a Green Caftan by Ivan Nikitin

Ivan Nikitin. Portrait of a Young Man in a Green Caftan. Oil on canvas. No later than August 8 1732
1 september—14 november 2022

When in 1897 the Emperor Alexander III Russian Museum received the painting Portrait of a Young Man in a Green Caftan (late 1720s – before August 8, 1732) as a donation from the art collection of Prince Alexei Lobanov-Rostovsky, it was deemed to be an early 18th-century painting by an anonymous artist. The remarkable portrait was later thought to have possibly come from the hand of Ivan Nikitin, but sufficient evidence to prove that came to light only as recently as the mid-2010s, in the findings of a multidisciplinary study and thorough restoration done by Natalia Romanova, lead conservation professional of the Russian Museum’s oil painting conservation studio. The cleaning process revealed the original paintwork on the portrait to be intact. Once the later additions were cleared off, the painting began more clearly exhibiting the artist’s intent. The sophisticated colour scheme and the eloquence of the emotional characterization of his subject became apparent. It so happened that the painter never completed the painting, yet incompleteness does not detract from its formidable pictorial merits. When published, the rediscovered portrait by Ivan Nikitin caused a sensation among scholars of Petrine-era art. It has been suggested that Nikitin’s model was another eminent painter of that era, Andrei Matveyev. The work of Ivan Nikitin, one of the “fledglings of Tsar Peter’s nest”, epitomizes the rejuvenation of Russian art, initiated by the great reformer Peter the Great. The Russian Museum has a number of works by Nikitin in its possession. Each one is a priceless relic and a vibrant testimony to Russia’s cultural transformation during the age of Peter the Great. Portrait of a Young Man in a Green Caftan is one of those paintings.

The exhibition will also include other paintings by Ivan Nikitin from the Russian Museum collection.

You can see the exhibition in the Garden vestibule of the Mikhailovsky Palace.

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