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Portrait of an Unknown Woman by Ivan Kramskoi

05 April 2021
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Portrait of an Unknown Woman by Ivan Kramskoi


Portrait of an Unknown Woman - Ivan Nikolaevich Kramskoy. 1883. Oil on canvas. 75x99


Here we can see an urban fashionista. The girl is dressed impeccably. The haughty expression on her face betrays a spoiled, capricious nature. The artist undoubtedly chose a beautiful girl as to be a model. Large black eyes surrounded by lush eyelashes, full lips, thick eyebrows, soft face oval, oriental nose. The oriental beauty looks proudly at the viewer, sitting in a cabriolet.

The background of the portrait shows a winter cityscape. However, the background is very delicate, unobtrusive, and secondary. It must not distract the attention of the viewer from the model: the houses are as if in a haze, the sky is neutral white.

The heroine is dressed expensively and tastefully. The dark blue fur coat, trimmed with gray fur, decorated with silk ribbons to match the fur coat. Her coquettish clutch does not hide thin gloves and heavy gold bracelets on a graceful handle. The outfit has been crowned with a beret decorated with a white feather and pearls.

The master perfectly conveys the textures of silk, velvet, and fur. Gold sparkles with restraint, pearls are in perfect harmony with a feather and a beret. The lightwork in the picture is very even and colorless. The author clearly admires his model, so he leaves no shadow.

The once swarthy face of the beauty is whitened by Russian frosts. Her eyes retained the eastern temperament, but the half-closed eyelids muffle the southern ardor.

It is not a coincidence that this work of the author was recognized as a model of taste, femininity, and beauty. The work was sold into tens of thousands of lithographs, millions of magazine illustrations.

The work is filled with ambiguities and mysteries. Nobody will ever get to know who the model was. The author himself did not specify this in his diaries. There is an assumption that the girl depicted is nothing more than the artist's fantasy. Artful invention, vision, mirage. This fact, however, must not diminish the artistic value of the talented work.
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