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A.J. Stahn "Serene Prince Grigory Alexandrovich Potemkin", important Russian miniature!!, 1791
FINAL DISCOUNT PRICE= 3500 USD
( for EUR price see date rate )
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This particular representation of famous Russian statesman, warlord and "secret" husband of Empress Catherina the Great, Serene Prince Grigory Alexandrovich Potemkin (1739-1791), had been mentioned several times in a number of recent Russian publications: our images nr.6-8 show four miniatures on ivory with the same portrait. Whereas three authors of catalogue entries refer to it as painted "a' la Johann Baptist Lampi" , the fourth author of miniature's accompanying text (it belongs to the collection of the Moscow Kremlin Armory) - L. M. Frolova - implies that it was "evidently derived from the engraving by James Walker" ; see our image nr.8).
This engraving by James Walker is illustrated in D. A. Rovinski's "Podrobny Slovar' Russkikh Gravirovannykh Portretov" ("Detailed Dictionary of Russian Engraved Portraits", St. Petersburg, 1888 - see our image nr.9). Similarly, the accompanying text explains the origin of aforementioned "a' la Johann Baptist Lampi" classification of three similar miniatures (image nr.9).
D. A. Rovinski refers to certain preliminary study for this "painted by Lampi" finished oil portrait (its whereabouts are unknown). At the time of D. A. Rovinski's publication this study was housed in Moscow Pryanishnikov Gallery; today it belongs to collection of Tretyakov Gallery (see our image nr.10), where it (while unsigned (sic!!) is still considered to be the work of J. B. Lampi (alike Rovinski, the experts of Tretyakov Gallery point out the connection of this study to engraving of James Walker).
Additionally Rovinski mentions the date of 1789 on second state of this engraving and engages into further polemic with Dr. G. K. Nagler, who in his "Neues allgemeines Künstler-Lexikon" (1833; see our image nr.11) maintains that following the invitation of Grigory Potemkin, J. B. Lampi (we are referring here to Austrian artist Johann Baptist Lampi the Elder (1751-1830)) arrived from Warsaw to the latter's headquarters in Bessarabian town Jassy already after the death of prince (16 October 1791). According to Rovinski however, Lampi met Potemkin in 1789 (he retains his opinion that aforementioned 1789 engraving was made after Lampi's portrait of the same year).
Exactly this text of Rovinski (accompanying the illustration of engraving in his dictionary) laid a foundation to what was to become a common reference in Russian art sources as "a' la Johann Baptist Lampi", whenever this exact representation of Grigory Potemkin was mentioned.
Yet it was not Dr. Nagler, who was mistaking, but Rovinski himself!
The most recent researches (see "Un rittratista nell'Europa delle corti /Giovanni Battista Lampi /1751-1830", Trento 2001, as well as the latest catalogue of Tretyakov Gallery with biography of Johann Baptist Lampi the Elder) show that:
1) In 1789 Lampi was still in Warsaw.
2) In 1790-1791 he was back in Vienna, where on September 18th 1791 he was informed by Chancellor Kaunitz of Potemkin's letter. In this letter, the Prince was asking to forward to Lampi his invitation to visit him in Jassy.
3) Lampi arrived to Jassy on October 21st (sic!) 1791 but missed Potemkin, who died five days prior to his arrival (October 16th 1791).
Hence, the 1789 engraving could by no means have been produced after certain painting by Lampi! The latter analysis entirely "removes" the definition "a' la Lampi" from this series of miniature portraits that - as accurately noted by L. M. Frolova - all stem from the 1789 engraving by James Walker.
This mistake of Rovinski was also observed by S. V. Morozova, who in her (published in Moscow in 2010) book "Portrait in Russian Engravings of 18th century" (see our image nr.12) no longer refers to Lampi.
Instead, Mme Morozova suggests another possible author of the original oil portrait. Namely, she refers to (published in 1885 in Russia) book of A. Brikner "History of Catharina II", whose author maintains that this portrait was painted by D. G. Levitski…
Our images nr.13-17 offer extensive biography of Prince Potemkin (clips from Wikipedia).
And now a few words about the author of this miniature.
It is the same A. Stahn whose name we find on the verso of the twin of our miniature (one of probably several replicas executed by this artist in 1791) which formerly belonged to the Moscow Collection A.V. Zubanova (see our image nr. 6). Nagler, Thieme-Becker and Schidlof provide the following information:
A.J. Stahn was firstly mentioned in 1766 as a trainee at the Porcelain Manufactory Fürstenberg in Lower Saxony. Some time later (the date is unknown) he was invited by Catherine II to St. Petersburg and was appointed porcelain painter of the Imperial Porcelain Manufactory. He was still alive in 1809. As we see on the base of our miniature as well as on the miniature in the collection Zubanova he was also active as a miniaturist on ivory.
Provenance: private collection, Illinois / USA
Condition: good; in original silver locket with gilding remains
Creation Year: late 18th Century
Measurements: UNFRAMED:6,0x6,0cm/2,4x2,4in FRAMED: 6,5x6,5cm/2,6x2,6in
Object Type: Framed miniature
Style: Portrait Miniatures
Technique: watercolor on ivory
Creator: A.J. Stahn
To see other works by this artist click on the name above!
Creator Dates: 1750s Germany-aft.1809 St.Petersburg
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