Friday, February 7, 2014
Off to Russia with French-born Louis Caravaque 1684–1752
One of the most successful foreign artists to work in Russia, Louis Caravaque is an example of the Europeanization, that Peter the Great sought to bring to his new city of Saint Petersburg. Born into a family of artists in Marseilles, Caravaque began his career painting ships like his father, but his portraits attracted enough attention to warrant a contract in 1715 to come to Russia for 3 years to paint portraits, battle paintings, historical scenes & landscapes. By 1716, Caravaque was living in St. Petersburg, painting & teaching students. Caravaque continued to be a dominant force in the world of portrait painting in the Russian court through the reigns of Catherine, Anna Ioannovna & Elizabeth, all of whom he painted. His work covers a variety of members of the Imperial family & the nobility at various stages in their lives. In addition to portraits, Caravaque designed several interiors & painted a variety of battle scenes related to Peter's military victories in the Northern Wars. He was also commissioned to paint several icons, becoming one of the first foreign artists to do so. Caravaque died in 1752, in St. Petersburg & was buried in the cemetery at St. Sampson Cathedral.