Russian, Saint Petersburg
Red pine (pinus sylvestris), with wrought-iron clips
Wrightsman Fund, 1996 (1996.7)
No 2: The Old Castle (II vechio castello) and No 4: Bydlo (A Polish Ox-cart) from
Pictures from an Exhibition by Musorgsky played by Nikolai Demidenko
courtesy of Hyperion Records Ltd, London (www.hyperion-records.co.uk)
- I really had
- a very deep affection towards this bust of a man who looks at you
- with a quiet, focused gaze,
- and kind of smile which radiates an ironic feeling.
- When the Metropolitan was lucky enough
- really a challenge to find out
- who the sitter is.
- It’s a great mystery:
- who he is,
- who made it. The wig and the armor are a clue.
- The wig is very typically for the late seventeenth century.
- And if we look closer at the armory,
- it tells us
- the whole story in details.
- The armory shows you Alexander the Great.
- And names came up. A colleague pointed me to a portrait of Alexander Menshikov.
- He was picked by Peter the Great to be the general field marshal of all the Russians, in 1703.
- He was very well known
- for his
- ostentatious behavior.
- When Catherine took over he virtually ran the country.
- After the death
- of Catherine
- he was sent to Siberia.
- The aristocracy tried to eliminate his memory. There are only less than a dozen portraits. We know from descriptions that Alexander Menshikov had a very high forehead,
- very gazing, strong eyes,
- and especially these thin lips.
- The whole pictorial program is so thought through.
- It must have been
- a collaboration of the patron
- together with
- the artist to create
- a monument that would last.
- The artist was able to capture in wood,
- the personality of the sitter.
- Even if we can’t name the artist,
- Now we have all the time in the world
- to find out the rest.