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Konstantin Makovsky | Academic / Genre painter

Konstantin Egorovich Makovsky (1839-1915) left a significant artistic legacy.
He worked as a genre painter, was a master of history painting and was also a skilled landscape artist.
However, portraiture was definitive in his oeuvre.
The artist's son, the famous Silver Age art critic, Sergei Makovsky, considered that his father's legacy included 'very many portraits, more than all those by Kramskoi, Repin and Serov put together'.

It is Makovsky's portraits of female sitters that comprise the most striking part of his oeuvre.
These are generally gala portraits of society beauties, whose luxurious accoutrements vie with the graceful appearance of their heroines.
At Makovsky's 1897 solo exhibition in St Petersburg, female portraits and heads significantly outnumbered the other works on view.
The critics noted, 'This abundance of feminine and ladylike elements is so significant and eye-catching to such an extent that all the other pictures, their large dimensions notwithstanding, retreat into the background, while that which Goethe so felicitously called 'Ewig-Weibliche' [the eternally female] remains in the foreground'.

Makovsky frequently painted the women he was close to. He was happily married three times. Makovsky lived with his first wife, Elena Timofeevna for no more than seven years; she died at a young age from consumption in 1873.
In 1875 Makovsky married Iulia Pavlovna Letkova, fêted as the most beautiful woman in St Petersburg.
Several portraits of Iulia Pavlovna are known: two of which (the most famous of the group) are located in the State Russian Museum in St Petersburg; the first depicts her in a red dress (1881); the second with her children Elena and Sergei (1882).

Iulia Pavlovna's 'facial type' was also employed by the artist to depict beautiful boyarinas in his history paintings of the 1880s as well as for mythological and allegorical characters in easel paintings and monumental works.
In 1889, in Paris, where Makovsky kept a studio for his use during the autumn and winter when it was cold and dark in St Petersburg, he met Maria Alekseevna Matavtina and once again fell in love.
As a result, Makovsky divorced Iulia Pavlovna in 1892 and remarried in 1898.
He lived with Maria Alekseevna who was his junior by thirty years until his death in 1915; she did not long survive him.

They had three children before their marriage, (Konstantin, Olga and Marina), who were legitimised after they were wed.
Their last son Nicholas was born in 1900.
The physical similarity between his second wife, Iulia Pavlovna and his third, Maria Alekseevna, is famous.
They were both outstanding beauties with well-proportioned facial features.
Iulia, however, was brown-eyed, while Maria had grey-blue eyes. | Source: © Christie's

It is also doubtless that Makovsky gave to almost all of the women he portrayed traits of an ideal female type which he had refined.
From the 1890s, Maria Alekseevna became the artist's constant model. Her portraits were frequently shown at exhibitions of the St Petersburg Society of Artists.
She posed as Juliet in the painting Romeo and Juliet (1895, Odessa Art Museum) and her features are recognisable in the later version of Ophelia.

Konstantin Egorovič Makovskij / Константин Егорович Маковский (Mosca, 20 giugno 1839 – Pietrogrado, 17 settembre 1915) è stato un pittore Russo, associato a "Peredvizhniki".
Studiò dapprima a Mosca e in un secondo tempo all'Accademia russa di belle arti di San Pietroburgo, ma sospese gli studi in segno di protesta per il diffuso accademismo.
Molti dei suoi dipinti storici, come La sposa russa (1889), mostravano una visione idealizzata della vita russa nei secoli passati, prediligendo le tematiche ispirate dalla vita del popolo.
Si dedicò anche alla ritrattistica, dapprima intrisa di realismo e successivamente di stilizzazioni eleganti e gradevoli.
Nell'ultimo periodo creativo della sua carriera, abbandonò gli "Ambulanti", per avvicinarsi a uno stile più accademico, dedicato a temi fiabeschi o di genere.

Lo stile pittorico dell'artista ha le caratteristiche di diversi stili.
Dopo aver lasciato la scuola ed essere un rappresentante dell'accademismo, dimostrò alcune delle qualità che si sarebbero manifestate più chiaramente nell'opera degli impressionisti russi.
Inoltre, alcuni dei suoi dipinti storici, come Bride-show (1889), mostrano una visione idealizzata della vita in Russia in epoche precedenti.