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Portrait of Alexandra Levshina. 1775

Levitsky Dmitry,
Oil on canvas
213 х 140,5

State Russian Museum


In the seventies of the 18th century Catherine II commissioned Levitsky to paint a series of "Smolyanki" that consisted of seven portraits of the pupils of the Smolny Institute for Noble Maidens – privileged educational establishment, opened in St. Petersburg in 1764 by decree of the Empress. Daughters of the nobles were preparing there for the Royal Court service and secular life. Talents that were "pleasant in society" were developed in girls. They were taught French and German languages, the elegant manners, as well as singing, dancing, playing musical instruments. The performances were often held in the Smolny Institute. Smolyanki acted out French comedies and also performed in ballet.
Levshina Alexandra Petrovna (1757–1782) – the Princess Cherkasskaya, daughter of Prime Major P.I. Levshin and Tatyana Ivanovna (nee. Princess Koltsova-Masalskaya). From 1764 to 1776 she was a pupil of the Smolny Institute, from which she graduated with a gold medal and the insignia (cipher) of Catherine II designed as a brooch in the shape of the Empress initial. From 1778 the maid of honor of the Empress. Since 1780 she was married to Duke P. Cherkassky, a captain of the Life Guards of the Izmailovsky Regiment. She died in Moscow.
Levshina Alexandra Petrovna is depicted in the suit, in which she was dancing in one of the ballets staged at the Theater of the Educational Society for Noble Maidens. Copy (bust) – Odessa Art Museum.

Author's Biography

Levitsky Dmitry

Levitsky, Dmitry Grigoryevich
1735, Kiev - 1822, St Petersburg
Leading Russian eighteenth-century painter and portraitist. Son of Grigory Levitsky Nos, a priest and Ukrainian engraver. Moved to St Petersburg (c. 1758). Studied under Alexei Antropov. Worked in Moscow (17605). Nominated to the Academy (c. 1769). Academician (1770). Headed the portraiture class at the Imperial Academy of Arts (1771-87). Councillor (1776), member of the Academy council (1780). Retired for unknown reasons (1787). Worked as a free painter. Returned to the Academy council (1807).

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