Portrait of Paul I in a white Dalmatian - Vladimir Lukich Borovikovsky. 49 x 33 cm
Before us is a portrait of the Russian emperor Paul I, reigning on the throne for a short time, less than five years, since 1796. The son of Catherine the Great and Peter III, he is considered one of the dramatic and unfortunate rulers of Russia.
The portrait was painted by Borovikovsky in 1800, and in 1801, Paul I will die as a result of a conspiracy.
On the canvas, Borovikovsky depicts the sovereign in a ceremonial, most solemn attire. Pavel importantly towers before the throne, his pose is proud, it feels that he likes all this rehearsal before the coronation.
Under him, all the attributes of state power - the main imperial crown, ermine mantle, scepter, ribbon, chain and star of St. Andrew the First-Called.
But, first of all, Paul I demanded to put on a white Dalmatian. Why is this clothing so important for Pavel Petrovich?
The Dalmatian is a richly decorated, made of expensive fabric clothing of the Byzantine rulers, symbolizing justice and salvation in Christianity. It is also not a long, wide-sleeved mantle worn by the grandmasters or grand masters of the Order of Malta.
In 1798, when the religious chivalric order of the Roman Catholic Church was left without leadership and without a country of residence (Malta was influenced by the British Empire), Paul I declared himself the protector and patron of the Order of Malta and was crowned the Grand Master.
Borovikovsky emphasized the details of Pavel Petrovich's accession to the order - the Maltese cross on the chest and on the crown of the great master, which lies on the table on the right, next to another symbol of imperial power - the state.
Perhaps Emperor Paul I, as a passionate supporter of all kinds of order rituals, saw a certain meaning in this combination, because the power symbolizes dominion over the whole world.
In the work on the portrait, Borovikovsky proved himself to be an excellent master in writing the texture of materials - how the white velvet shimmers into folds, how the ribbons and fringe of the bottom of the dalmatian shine with pleasant gold, how ermine fur is soft and noble, how precious stones are reflected on the crown.