Oil on canvas
19 x 14 inches (20 x 15 inches framed)
Cooling Galleries, London
Private Collection, Chicago (since 1957)
Like many Russian artists in the second half of the 1800s, Alexej Harlamoff left Russia to establish a painting career in Paris. He first attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Saint Petersburg, where he demonstrated a liking for Rembrandt and frequently copied his works. His career while in Russia seems to have been successful since, according to an 1892 biography of artists in Paris, Harlamoff had “painted the portraits of many distinguished members of Russian aristocracy.”
Harlamoff’s chief fame, however, resulted from his idyllic portraits of children and young girls. These pictures sometimes include images of maidens knitting or arranging bouquets. Harlamoff was a regular contributor to the French Salon and received a second-class medal at the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1878. Harlamoff’s work hangs in important public and private collections throughout the world and can be found in prominent museums such as the Getty Museum.
Museum Collections Include: Smith College Museum of Art, MA; J. Paul Getty Museum, CA; Musee des Beaux-Arts, Saint Petersburg; Roumianzeff Museum, Moscow; Tretiakoff Gallery, Moscow
The present work, Contemplation, features a lovely young woman, who is also the subject of several other portraits by the artist. Similar to the Getty’s Harlamoff, this girl is seen in profile, in a striking red gown with a delicate lace shawl. The rich scarlet colors of her dress compliment her glowing pale skin and echo the auburn of her hair. In Harlamoff’s signature style, the painting has an understated luxurious, jewel-like quality that reflects the aristocratic opulence of 19th century Russia.