LEVITSKY, Dmitry Grigorevich
(b. 1735, Kiev, d. 1822, St. Petersburg)


Russian painter of Ukrainian birth. His father was Grigory Levitsky-Nos (1697-1769), a priest, engraver and painter. His first art teacher was his father, later he became a pupil of Aleksey Antropov who came to Kiev to paint the Cathedral of St. Andrew (1752-55). In the late 1750s Levitsky went with Antropov to St. Petersburg, where he stayed until 1764; he continued with lessons from Antropov to whom, it appears, he owed the objectivity that was to characterize his work. It is probable that he also studied at the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts, attending classes under Louis Lagrenée. Levitsky worked with Antropov on the decoration of triumphal arches in Moscow for Catherine II's coronation in 1762.

In 1770, Levitsky became famous as a portrait painter after the exhibition of six of his portraits in the Imperial Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg. For the portrait of Alexander Kokorinov, Director and First Rector of the Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg (1769, Russian Museum, St. Petersburg) he was elected an academician and appointed the Professor of the portrait painting class at the Academy of Arts. In such works he made successful use of a compositional structure typical of formal European portrait painting, intended to emphasize the importance of the sitter.

In 1772-1776 Levitsky worked on a series of portraits of the pupils of the privileged women establishment Smolny Institute for Young Ladies in St. Petersburg commissioned by Catherine II. The girls are depicted performing dances, music, plays. Though Levitsky had many commissions, they were, in most cases, poorly paid, and the painter died in poverty in 1822.

Together with Fyodor Rokotov and Vladimir Borovikovsky, he ranks foremost among 18th-century Russian portrait painters.

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