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Varnek Alexander G. (1782-1843)

The life and work of the famous portrait painter whose contemporaries called "Russian Van Dyck," were almost entirely related to one city - St. Petersburg and one educational institution of art - artistic Petersburg Academy.

 At the Academy he studied from March 1795 to September 1803, in a portrait class C. Shchukin , and here he worked after graduation, first as a pensioner helped professors, then taught their own, from 1810 - in the rank of the academician, and since 1832 - professor.

 Until the end of his days Varnek on the Board of Arts, in the halls of the Academy in its periodic exhibitions displayed his paintings evoked the continued interest of connoisseurs and art lovers that created numerous comments in the press (in the magazines, "Son of the Fatherland", "Notes of the Fatherland" in the anthology " Northern Flowers "and other publications of those years).

 There was only a relatively short period (from July 1804 to October 1809), which the artist spent away from St. Petersburg - in Rome, where he was sent as a pensioner of the Academy of Arts. Although artistic activity Varnek began in 1802 - 03. ("Portrait of the Actress E. Kolosov dressed as Artemis", then the portraits of young artists NI Utkin, AV Stupin, EO Skotnikova and A. X. Vostokova), his true creative debut took place in Rome .

 It was here that he created his first software product - "Self-portrait with palette and brushes in hand" (1804). This painting was at the same time and one of the program of works of the new artistic direction - Romanticism, was formed in Europe in the first decade of the XIX century. Exponent of this art movement in Russian art, along with O. Kiprensky and A. Orlovsky was Varnek. Said self-portrait was the first created over the years a series of self-portraits - a kind of "autobiography in a portrait," where the artist presented itself in different states, poses a variety of furnishings and accessories in a young or middle age. These are the "Self-Portrait" (1810), "Self-portrait, back-lit" (1816), which is paired to the "Portrait of M. Varnek, the Artist's Wife" (1816), "Self-portrait in a velvet beret with a drawing pen" (1810s) , "Self-Portrait with Pipe" (end of 1820), "Self-portrait in old age" (1830), etc.

Being attentive Physiognomists, feeling good and passing nature of man, his posture, gesture, facial expression, the artist reveals the phenomenon of individual personality, its uniqueness. His portraits are notable for great stylistic diversity, dissimilarity manner that was inherent in the artists of the Romantic movement, especially O. Kiprensky . Often Varnek portrait work together in interesting "family" cycles - for example, "Portrait of the sculptor Ivan Martos" (1819) and "Portrait of the daughters of the sculptor Ivan Martos" (1810s) or three portraits of children AR Tomilova (all 1825).

From the 1820s. creative evolution of the artist is on the decline, but he is active as a teacher and an expert artistic works (from 1824 he was curator of prints and drawings collection at the Hermitage). Artistic and pedagogical method Varnek as a whole contributed to the maintenance of the Academy of Arts of high professional standards - knowledge of painting techniques, careful shtudirovaniya nature, competent image.

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