“Portrait of a boy Chelishchev”, Orest Adamovich Kiprensky – description

Description of the picture:

Portrait of a little boy Chelishchev – Orest Adamovich Kiprensky. 1808. Oil on canvas. 40 eight x 30 eight cm

   This picture is one of the first children’s portraits where the painter really tried to portray the baby with his entire inner world, and not a small copy of an adult, as was done earlier. It is unclear to our contemporaries that children were not treated relatively recently because it was accepted at the moment. They didn’t even have special “children’s” clothes; children were dressed in small copies of adult outfits. About any child psychology of speech did not even go.

   Most portraits of children of those eras depict children and adolescents as a smaller version of an adult, they are dressed up and combed in the same way as their ancestors. Such paintings look artificial, and the children resemble wax sculptures, with rare exceptions (The Boy in Blue by Gainsborough and the Meninas of Velazquez).

   In this portrait, the painter for the first time depicted a real baby, without age-related styling. The painting, inscribed in an oval according to the style of those times, depicts a boy with still childishly puffy cheeks and affectionate skin. He has colorful, juicy lips and very expressive black and huge eyes. They immediately attract the attention of the viewer, because the artist successfully managed to convey into their specific children’s thoughtfulness. It seems that while posing the child was distracted from what was happening and sank into his thoughts.

   Because it is perfectly clear that the painter painted all his portraits from nature, it becomes clear such a seductive image of the baby. The master simply amazingly conveyed all the features of a child’s face and its unique expression, by which it is immediately clear that we have a child. Despite the “adult” clothes and hairstyle, this is a small boy with a glorious future. It has not yet been known to anyone, but in the future this affectionate and dreamy child will become the hero of the Russian war one thousand eight hundred and twelve years, then it will enter one of the Decembrist societies that tried to change the history of the country by overthrowing the autocracy.

   But all this is in the distant future, and at the moment the future Decembrist is in a state where childhood evenly runs into adulthood. With all the outward tenderness in the proud posture of the little boy, in his manner of holding his head and looking, one can feel the breed and excellent upbringing. The artist managed to fetch this narrow line, to make the portrait alive, because he is still admirable.

   The color palette is restrained, but expressive due to the catchy central accent – a red vest of a little boy. His blue frock coat makes a wonderful contrast to the rich and prominent color, and colorful tones throw pinkish highlights on his still childishly smooth and delicate cheeks. The good complexion of the kid from high society is set off by the sweet whiteness of the collar of the shirt, which is almost covered by the highest collar of outerwear. Attracting attention and hairstyle – this is the usual men’s styling, prestigious in those romantic times.

   There is not a single detail in the portrait that could distract attention from the look of the little boy and his inspired face. Compositionally, the image is perfectly inscribed in an oval, the background is uniform, gray, designed only to give volume and vibrant colors to the portrait of the baby. The clothes are also as ordinary as possible, without details and trim; attention is attracted only by large buttons of a highly buttoned reddish vest, covered with the same fabric from which the thing itself is sewn. All this was created so that the attention of the beholder was concentrated on the boy’s face, on his expressive and bottomless dark eyes. If you follow the statement that the eyes are a mirror of the soul, then the master was able to perfectly capture the baby’s living, developing soul, preserving this wonderful image for posterity."