Orest Kiprensky

Orest Kiprensky (1782–1836)
Born: 1782, Nezhnovo (St Petersburg Province)
Died: 1836, Rome

Painter, draughtsman. Born on the Nezhinskaya estate in the village of Nezhnovo halfway between St Petersburg and Narva (1782). Illegitimate son of landowner Alexei Dyakonov and a serf woman called Anna Gavrilova. Given the first name of Orest (after the Greek mythological hero Orestes) and the surname of Kypreisky (after the Greek goddess of love Cypris, later changed to Kiprensky). Fostered by his father’s manservant Adam Schwalbe (1782–88). Emancipated from serfdom and sent to the foundling hospital at the Imperial Academy of Arts (1788), where he studied history painting under Grigory Ugryumov and Gabriele-François Doyen (1797–1803). Awarded a minor silver medal (1800), major silver medal (1801), two minor gold medals (1803), first-class certificate and fellowship at the Imperial Academy of Arts (1803) and a major gold medal (1805). Worked as a fellow of the Imperial Academy of Arts (1803–09) and as a portraitist in Moscow (1809–11), Tver (1811) and St Petersburg (1812–16). Academician of portrait painting (1812), board member of the Imperial Academy of Arts (1815). Travelled through Germany and Switzerland to Italy (1816), where he lived at the personal expense of Empress Elizabeth Alexeyevna (1816–22). Invited to paint a self-portrait for the Galleria degli Uffizi in Florence (1820). Forced to leave Italy after the death of a model in his studio and gossip surrounding his relationship with her ten-year-old daughter, Anna Maria Falcucci, whom he adopted as his ward and employed as a model in Rome (1819), before leaving in a convent (1822). Lived in Paris (1822–23) and Marienbad (1823), where he drew two portraits of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1823). Returned to Russia (1823), where he was plagued by rumours that he had murdered his model and committed adultery with a minor (1823–28). Returned to Italy after receiving a letter from Samuel Friedrich Halberg, who had lost track of Mariucci (1828). Lived in Rome, Naples, Florence and Milan (1828–36). Second-class professor of history and portrait painting with automatic membership of the nobility (1831), board member of the Accademia di Belle Arti in Naples (1831). Found Anna Maria Falcucci, who had been transferred to another convent. After finally saving up enough money, converted to Roman Catholicism and married her (1836). Died three months later of pneumonia in Rome and buried at the Basilica di Sant'Andrea delle Fratte (1836). Contributed to the exhibitions of the Imperial Academy of Arts (from 1804) and the Paris Salon (1822).

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