Portrait of Princess Olga Orlova

Artist: Valentin Serov
Date: 1911
Media: Charcoal pencil and pastels on paper mounted on cardboard
Dimensions: 65.5 x 48.5 cm
Ownership: Russian Museum, St Petersburg
Received in 1919 from the Prince Vladimir Orlov collection, Petrograd
Style: Impressionism
Valentin Serov, Portrait of Princess Olga Orlova, 1911


This charcoal and pastel portrait was Valentin Serov’s second attempt to create a portrait of Princess Olga Orlova. In 1911, he painted a large oil portrait on canvas, depicting the stylish aristocrat and socialite in a palace interior.

The princess did not like the portrait, believing that the accessories diverted attention from her true character. She commissioned another work and later donated the oil painting to the Alexander III (now the Russian) Museum.

The smaller dimensions and choice of graphic media in the second portrait were intended to create a more intimate image of the princess. The artist appears to have succeeded, because this version allegedly satisfied the proud aristocrat.

Princess Olga Orlova (1872–1923) was the daughter of Prince Konstantin Beloselsky-Belozersky (1843–1920) and Nadezhda Skoboleva (1847–1920). She was the first wife of the major-general Prince Vladimir Orlov (1868–1927).

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