Louis Caravaque

Born: 1684, Marseille
Died: 1754, St Petersburg

French painter, graphic artist, decorator, applied artist, teacher. Member of the third generation of a family of artists from Gascony who decorated ships in Marseille and Toulon. Worked at the Arsenal des galères in Marseille and moved to Paris, where his portraits caught the attention of Pierre Lefort. Invited to Russia by Peter the Great (1715). Visited Astrakhan (1716) and lived and worked in St Petersburg and Moscow (1716–54). Painted portraits of Peter the Great (1716, 1717, 1722), Catherine I (early 1720s), Tsarevna Elizabeth Petrovna (1717), Tsarevna Anna Petrovna (1717, 1725), Peter II (1722), Empress Anna Ioannovna (1730) and Catherine the Great (1745). Depicted episodes from the Great Northern War (1700–21), including The Battle of Poltava (1718), The Taking of Schlüsselburg (1721) and twenty-seven battle scenes for the Summer Palace. Painted murals and plafonds for imperial residences, including the Western Gallery of Monplaisir and the Aviaries at Peterhof (from 1721). Awarded his own house by Peter the Great near the Menshikov Palace on Vasilyevsky Island (1722). Submitted projects for an academy of painting to Peter the Great (1723) and an academy of crafts to Anna Ioannovna (1730). One of the few foreign artists to paint icons for Russian Orthodox churches, including the Winter Palace Chapel (1725), St Isaac’s Church (1727) and the Church of the Nativity of the Virgin on Nevsky Prospekt (1747). First artist in Russia to draw nude models and copy European paintings (1726–39). Court artist of Anna Ioannovna (1730–40), Anna Leopoldovna (1740–41) and Elizabeth Petrovna (1741–54). Decorated the coronations of Anna Ioannovna (1730) and Elizabeth Petrovna (1742). Director of the Imperial Tapestry Factory (from 1732), where he designed gobelins after drawings by Charles Le Brun (1730s). Commissioned to paint fourteen portraits of Elizabeth Petrovna to send to foreign powers (1744–45). Died in St Petersburg and buried in the graveyard of St Sampson’s Cathedral (1754).

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