Alexei Alexeievich Harlamoff (1848-1915). Russian. A Young Girl Crocheting. Signed "Harlamoff" (lower right). Oil on canvas.
Alexei Harlamoff's greatest renown came from his romanticized images of Bohemian children and young peasant girls. He painted his subjects with enormous sensitivity, and by the 1880s, he gained international fame and recognition for his work. Queen Victoria greatly admired one such work, a painting of children playing with flowers, at the Glasgow International Exhibition of 1888.
As is evident in this piece, entitled A Young Girl CrochetingHarlamoff was particularly skilled at using very soft and natural colors when painting faces, and paid great attention to delicately highlighting the cheeks and temples. His masterful portrayal of the eyes draws the viewer directly into the painting, in this case, emphasizing the innocence and beauty of the sitter while she intently looks upon her work. Harlamoff sometimes used warm crimson colors to contrast with the pale skin tones, and, through the use of chiaroscuro, the backgrounds were often dark and impressionistic, giving more vibrancy and attention to the subject at hand.
Born in Saratoff, Russia in 1848, Harlamoff first attended the Academy of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg where he won a gold medal and a travel scholarship in 1868. He used this scholarship to travel to Paris where he attended the École des Beaux-Arts and worked with Leon Bonnat. He was particularly inspired by Rembrandt, and frequently emulated the work of the Dutch master. During his early career, Harlamoff painted many genre and religious themes and also became an established portrait painter. He painted cultural giants like writer Yvan Tourgueniev and singer-composer Pauline Viardot-Garcia, and soon counted many distinguished members of Russian aristocracy as subjects. Two of his more important works were of the Tsar Alexander II and Prince Demidoff-San Donato.
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