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Portrait of Count Felix Sumarokov-Elston (Later Prince Yussupov). 1903

Serov Valentin,
Oil on canvas
89 x 71,5

State Russian Museum


Count Felix Felixovich Sumarokov-Elston (1887– 1967): Son of Count Felix Felixovich Sumarokov-Elston and Princess Zinaida Yussupova. Inherited the title of Prince Yussupov (1917). Married Grand Duchess Irina Alexandrovna.

In terms of its painting and delivery of the human character, Portrait of Count Felix Sumarokov-Elston (Later Prince Yussupov) is one of the most elegant works in the gallery of portraits of Russians of various classes painted by Valentin Serov from the mid-1880s onwards. The image of the sixteen-year-old schoolboy reflects many features later typical of this refined aristocrat, who participated in the murder of Grigory Rasputin in 1916. Although Serov took two years to paint the portrait, this fresh and sharp picture appears to have been executed in one sitting. The dog is masterly painted, with subtle understanding of animal psychology. In his memoirs, Felix Yussupov wrote that Serov considered the dog to be his best sitter. The artist’s portraits of Felix and his father, mother and elder brother (1902–03, Russ. Mus.) constitute an original cycle of family portraits, extremely rare for the twentieth century. The Yussupov series represents one of Valentin Serov’s highest achievements in portraiture.

Author's Biography

Serov Valentin

Serov, Valentin Alexandrovich
1865, St Petersburg - 1911, Moscow
Painter, graphic artist, teacher, portraitist, landscapist, history painter. Son of the composer Alexander Serov. Studied under Ilya Repin in Paris and Moscow (1874-75, 1878-80) and under Pavel Chistyakov at the Imperial Academy of Arts (1880-85). Academician of painting (1898), full member of the Imperial Academy of Arts (1903-05). Member of the Abramtsevo circle (from the 18705). Contributed to exhibitions (from 1889). Contributed to the exhibitions of the Society of Travelling Art Exhibitions (1890-99; member from 1894), Munich Sezession (1896, 1898,1899; member from 1899), Exhibition of Russian and Finnish Artists (1898), World of Art (1896-1906, member from 1900; 1911-12, founding member), Berlin Sezession (1903), Exhibition of Historical Russian Portraits at the Tauride Palace in St Petersburg (1905), Union of Russian Artists (1905-10; member from 1903), Sergei Makovsky Salon (1909), Exposition Universelle in Paris (1900, grand prix), International Exhibitions in Munich (1909), Vienna (1902), Venice (1907), Brussels (1910) and Rome (1911) and the Exhibitions of Russian Art in Paris (1906, 1910), Berlin (1906) and Vienna (1908). Member of the board of the Tretyakov Gallery. Taught at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture (1897-1909). Designed for theatres in Moscow and St Petersburg and Sergei Diaghilev''s Saisons Russes (from 1886).

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