Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Princess Varvara Nikolaevna Gagarina (1762–1802)

Artist:
Jean-Baptiste Greuze (French, Tournus 1725–1805 Paris)
Date:
ca. 1780–82
Medium:
Oil on canvas
Dimensions:
Oval, 31 1/2 x 25 in. (80 x 63.5 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Gift of Mrs. William M. Haupt, from the collection of Mrs. James B. Haggin, 1965
Accession Number:
65.242.3
Not on view
Varvara Nikolaevna Golitsyna, who was born on July 7, 1762, married Prince Sergei Sergeyevich Gagarin (1745-1798) and was the mother of four children. She died at thirty-nine. As Greuze never went to Russia, the princess must have visited Paris either shortly before or after her wedding. Her pose is distant and formal, while her costume is not unlike the dresses worn by the queen, Marie Antoinette (1755-1793), in the early 1780s.
Varvara Nikolaevna was born on July 7, 1762. The daughter of Prince Nikolai Mikhailovich Golitsyn (1727–1787) and Princess Ekaterina Aleksandrovna Golovina (1728–1769), she married Prince Sergei Sergeyevich Gagarin (1745–1798). She seems to have had four children, and died early in 1802 at the age of thirty-nine. As Greuze never went to St. Petersburg, the princess must have visited Paris either before or after her wedding, the date of which has not been discovered. Her upright pose is both distant and formal. Her costume is similar to the white dresses worn at the time by the French queen, Marie Antoinette (1755–1793). The oval canvas is conspicuously signed on the pedestal in the foreground at the bottom.

[Katharine Baetjer 2016]
Inscription: Signed (lower center): J·B·Greuze
by descent to the sitter's son, Prince Nikolai Sergeyevich Gagarin (d. 1842); Prince Nikolai Nikolaievich Gagarin (1842–d. 1902); Prince Victor Nikolaievich Gagarin, Moscow (1902–d. 1912); Gagarin family (1912–23; sold to Wildenstein); [Wildenstein, New York, 1923–27; sold to Haggin]; Mrs. James B. Haggin, New York (1927–d. 1965); her sister, Mrs. William M. Haupt, New York (1965)
Nikolai Mikhailovich. Portraits russes des XVIIIe et XIXe siècles. Vol. 2, St. Petersburg, 1906, no. 32, ill., identifies the sitter, the daughter of Prince Nicolas Mikhaïlowitch Golitzyne and the wife of Prince Serge Serguéewitch Gagarine; as in the collection of prince V. Gagarine, Moscow.

Louis Réau. "Greuze et la Russie." L'art et les artistes 1 (1920), pp. 285–86, ill., observes that he painted both Prince and Princess Gagarin.

Anita Brookner. "Jean-Baptiste Greuze–II." Burlington Magazine 98 (June 1956), p. 196, draws attention to Greuze's Russian patrons and finds that the portrait of Princess Gagarina is among his superior productions of the 1780s.

Anita Brookner. Greuze: The Rise and Fall of an Eighteenth-century Phenomenon. Greenwich, Conn., 1972, pp. 80, 126–27, dates it about 1786 on grounds of costume.

Edgar Munhall. Jean-Baptiste Greuze, 1725–1805. Ed. Joseph Focarino. Exh. cat.Hartford, 1976, p. 152, compares it to "Woman with a Spaniel, Presumed Portrait of Madame de Porcin" (Musée d'Angers).

James Thompson. "Jean-Baptiste Greuze." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 47 (Winter 1989/90), pp. 41–42, 44, 47, ill. (color), suggests it was a wedding portrait painted when the sitter was about twenty years old, or about 1780.



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