Description: signed Harlamoff l.r. oil on canvas
Dimensions: 82 by 66.5cm., 32¼ by 26¼in.
Provenance: Frost & Reed, London
Purchased from the above by the father of the present owner in the 1960s
Notes: This work will be included in the Harlamoff catalogue raisonné being prepared by Olga Sugrobova-Roth and Eckart Lingenauber.
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The present work exemplifies Harlamoff's unique skill in rendering the beauty and innocence of his young sitters. The girl is looking up from her crocheting directly at the viewer with a glance that exudes a wisdom far beyond her years. She is softly lit, and the brightness of her face, the red wool in her lap and the pink ribbon in her hair create a rich contrast with her muted surroundings.
Born in Saratov, Russia, Harlamoff studied at the Academy of Fine Arts, St Petersburg, and won a gold medal and travel scholarship in 1868 for his painting The Return of the Prodigal Son. The stipend enabled him to study in Paris at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts under the portrait painter Léon Bonnat. Harlamoff's work was exhibited in the Russian section of the Décennale exhibition, part of the Paris 1900 Exposition Universelle. His work subsequently became very popular with Russian and French collectors.
A renowned portraitist in his day, his sitters included Ivan Tourgenev, Tsar Alexander II and Prince Demidoff. However, Harlamoff is most renowned today for his informal portraits of young girls, chosen for their beauty and innocence, as in the present work.