"The Horsewoman". The story of one portrait

Russian painter Karl Bryullov painted a portrait in real size (291x206 cm), depicting a girl on a horse and a girl who looks at her. "How many remember, we still have not seen a horse portrait, conceived and performed with such art … This portrait shows us a painter who speaks at once, and more importantly, a brilliant painter. ”

Such and other, not less flattering, reviews appeared in the Italian newspapers in 1832. The interest and admiration of art lovers was caused by the painting “The Horsewoman. Portrait of Amatsilii and Dzhovanina Pacini, pupils of the Countess Yu.P. Samoilova ”.

Few know the history of creation and the fate of the work. The Horsewoman was written in 1832, when Karl Pavlovich Bryullov lived in Milan, in the north of Italy. A close friend of the artist, a wealthy aristocratic Julia Samoilova ordered a portrait of her pupils to a young master. They were the daughter and young relative of the deceased composer Giuseppe Pacini. That same Pacini, whose opera “The Last Day of Pompeii” pushed Briullova on the theme of a famous painting in the future. The painter wrote two sisters in a villa near Milan.

In the center of the picture on a hot racer Jovanina Pacini is depicted. The horse is hot, but the rider sits straight and proud, self-confident. To the left of the young amazon-balcony, on which her younger sister ran, in the depths there is a shady park. The general silhouette of a horsewoman and a horse forms a semblance of a triangle – a stable, long-favorite form of building a ceremonial portrait.

So many compositions were decided by Titian, Velasquez, Rubens, Van Dyck. Under the Brullov brush, the old compositional scheme is interpreted in a new way. The artist enters the picture of the child in the picture. The little girl, hearing the horse’s tramp, rushed out onto the balcony and extended her hand through the bars. And delight, and fear for the rider expresses her face. The note of a living, immediate feeling moderates the cold majesty of the portrait, gives it spontaneity and humanity.

For the first time the picture was exhibited in 1832 in the Brera Gallery in Milan. Next, the canvas was at the very Countess before her ruin in 1972, when the painting was sold.

In 1896, the “Horsewoman” was acquired for the Tretyakov Gallery and still gathers in front of the audience. The artist’s conception happily united the majesty of the ceremonial portrait and simplicity, the poetic spirituality of the living, immediate characters of the two heroines.