Alexei Alexeiewitsch Harlamoff was born in Saratov, Russia in 1849. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in St Petersburg where in 1868 he was awarded a gold medal and travel scholarship. At this time, the academy taught and promoted the neo-classical techniques and topics. Harlamoff’s earliest works were therefore mainly of religious and military subjects. However, it was at a time when the Russian art movement was undergoing great changes and with the advent of Romanticism a new emphasis was placed on portraits of individuals. Moreover, as art began to spread beyond court circles, Russian artists took a renewed interest in the world surrounding them instead of admiring distant European countries. This change caused a move towards greater naturalism.
Harlamoff took up his scholarship at L’ Ecole des Beaux-Arts where he was fortunate to study under the great portrait painter Leon Bonnat. Under his guidance, Harlamoff’s natural talent for portraiture excelled and received attention at the highest levels. Among his sitters and patrons were Tsar Alexander II and Prince Demidoff. By the 1880s Harlamoff was concentrating on portraits of children and young peasant girls, often using his own daughter as a sitter. His paintings captured an innocence and natural beauty for which he was to receive much acclaim.
In 1888, Queen Victoria expressed great admiration for a portrait exhibited at the Glasgow International Exhibition and in 1900 his work was displayed in the Russian section of the Decenniale Exhibition, part of the World Fair in Paris. Harlamoff continued to produce paintings until his death circa 1922.
His work achieved great popularity in his life-time, continuing to do so to this day. Examples of his work can be seen at the Alexander III Museum, St Petersburg and the Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow.
The painting is oil on canvas
collection of the Farhat Art Museum