Portrait of the Tsarevna Natalia Alexeyevna, Sister of Peter I
- oil on canvas. 83 x 66
Received in 1925 from the Gatchina Palace-Museum
- Provenance: Imperial Hermitage
Natalia Alexeyevna (August 22, 1673 – June 18, 1716). Favorite sister of Peter the Great, Tsarevna; daughter of Tsar Alexis I Mikhailovich and his second wife Natalia Naryshkina. After Tsatitsa Eudoxia Lopukhina, Peter’s first wife, was made to take the veil in 1698, Peter’s son the young Tsarevich Alexis stayed with Tsarevna Natalila in the village of Preobrazhenskoye. Peter later also sent Marta Skowrońska (baptized as Catherine with Tsarevich Alexis becoming her godfather) to stay with Natalia. Two sisters of Alexander Menshikov also stayed at the court of the tsarevna. Starting from 1708 Natalia lived in St Petersburg.
The presented portrait is one of the earliest works of national art, painted by the Russian artists in the European manner. The appearance of the heroine – style of a dress, wig, manner to behave – states that the portrait belongs to style of the New Age.
At the same time in the fine language of portraits created by I.N. Nikitin ("master of the personal crafts," a favorite of Peter I) there can still be felt echoes of medieval painting: twists and folds of fabric are painted rigorously, there is the flatness in the interpretation of figure. However, the face of the heroine is painted in a voluminous and expressive manner. The presence of multi-temporal features in the painting and the duality in the artistic decision are natural for the early stage of formation of secular art. Apparently, Nikitin I.N. (1680 – not earlier than 1742?) created the portrait before his departure to Italy, where he was sent by Peter I as a scholar. The similar portraits are located in the Pavlovsk Palace Museum and in the State Tretyakov Gallery.