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Jan X. Kaniewski (1805-1867) "Grand Duke Alexander Nikolaevich", important small oil painting!!, 1839
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Portrait of 20-year-old Russian Hereditary Grand Duke Alexander Nikolaevich (future Emperor Alexander II of Russia). He is shown wearing the uniform of major-general of Leib-Guards Preobrazhenski Regiment (for comparison, see our images nr.9-10). He is shown wearing the same uniform on the 1841 watercolor of Woldemar Hau (see our image nr.11).
This small oval oil portrait painted on English paintboard was made in Rome during Grand Duke's several-months-long stay in this city, in which he arrived on the 18th of December 1838. This visit to Rome was a stopover during a long journey through Europe, which Alexander Nikolaevich undertook accompanied by modest entourage (see our image nr.12).
We speak with certainty of Rome as place of this portrait's origin because of indisputable proof of this fact: the engraving after this portrait was included in D. A. Rovinski's "Detailed Dictionary of Russian Engraved Portraits" (see our image nr.13). The Russian text beneath the engraving reads (translated into English): "I. Kaniewski painted 1839. - F. Jordan engraved. 1839 /His Imperial Majesty /Grand Duke Tsarevich /Alexander Nikolaevich /Heir of All-Russia Throne". Incidentally, in 1839, both the painter Polish-Russian Jan Ksawery Kaniewski and the engraver Fedor Ivanovich Jordan lived in Rome on scholarships of St. Petersburg Imperial Academy of Fine Arts.
Grand Duke's tutor, who accompanied him on this journey, gives an account of his pupil's excursions to museums and private painting collections, of his visits to various antique and architectural monuments and "studios of artists from different countries living in Rome" (see our image nr.14).
It is rather simple to imagine that the young prince similarly made visits to Russian artists, holders of scholarship of St.Petersburg Imperial Academy of Fine Arts. One of such visits was paid to the studio of Jan (Ivan) Kaniewski…
Of course, one should not exclude the possibility that Grand Duke sat there for a large portrait, which whereabouts are unknown today, and that our small painting was the artist's own replica produced in the same time - this question remains thus far unanswered.
In any case, in Rome Alexander Nikolaevich made acquitance with this Polish-Russian artist and posed for him again many years later, already as Emperor Alexander II. Besides that, he patronized the artist during latter's years as director of the Warsaw School of Fine Arts (1858-1864).
Jan Ksawery Kaniewski (in Russia - Ivan-Ksavery Ksaverievich Kanevskij; in Italy - Francesco Saverio Kaniewski) was born in 1805 in Krasilow, Podolia (Poland) and died in 1867 in Warsaw. He was educated at the Lyceum Krzemieniecki in Krzeminiec (now Kamenets-Podolsk, West Ukraine), where he received his first lessons in drawing and painting from Jozef Pitschmann (for latter's work in our possession, see our web # 29767.
Between 1827 and 1833 he studied at the St. Petersburg Imperial Academy of Fine Arts, where he was repeatedly awarded academic medals. After graduating with the title of "volny khudozhnik" (free artist) and fortunate to have received academic grant for Rome, he arrived in this city in November 1833 via Dresden, Vienna, Bologna and Florence. In Rome he found fame thanks to his portrait of Pope Gregory XVI commissioned by Tsar Nikolai I (father of Alexander Nikolaevich; Tsar Nikolai must have mentioned Kaniewski's name to his son, which explains the latter's interest in visiting his studio). For this painting he was awarded the Vatican Order of the Golden Spur and elected a member of Accademia Virtuosi of the Pantheon. While in Rome he also painted portraits of other important persons, including (in 1837) Tsar's brother (and Alexander Nikolaevich' uncle) Grand Duke Michail Pavlovich (see our image nr.15).
In the years 1842-1846 he was back in St. Petersburg where received the title of Academician in 1845 for his work "Portrait of Field-Marshal Ivan Paskiewicz".
In 1846 he moved to Warsaw, where after the death of Alexander Kokular he occupied the chair of drawing and figure painting at the School of Fine Arts. As mentioned above, he was the director of this school between the years 1858 and 1864 under the patronage of Tsar Alexander II.
In 1860 he became one of the founders of the "Society for the Encouragement of Arts" (Towarzystwo Zachety Sztuk Pieknych), with which he remained associated until the end of his life.
After the School of Fine Arts was forcibly closed in 1864 as a result of general political repression, Kaniewski continued to lead a drawing class.
His work included many portraits of members of the Russian Imperial family and dignitaries of Congress Poland.
For artist's biography (in Russian), see our images nr.16-18.
Our images nr.19-22 show several other works of this artist.
Images nr.23-28 offer extensive biographical information concerning Grand Duke (and later Tsar) Alexander Nikolaevich and show few of his portraits executed by other artists.
Provenance: private collection, USA (as portrait of an unknown young officer)
Condition: good, some bended
Creation Year: 1839
Measurements: UNFRAMED:17,0x14,5cm/6,7x5,7in FRAMED: 22,6x20,0cm/8,9x7,9in
Object Type: Framed oil painting
Style: Portrait Miniatures
Technique: oil on paintboard
Creator: Jan Ksawery Kaniewski
To see other works by this artist click on the name above!
Creator Dates: 1805 Krasilow (Poland)-1867 Warsaw
Nationality: Polish / Russian
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