Portrait of Murtaza-Kuli Khan - Vladimir Lukich Borovikovsky. 58.7 x 41.5 cm
Brushes of Vladimir Lukich Borovikovsky belong to many portraits: ceremonial and chamber, female and male, military and statesmen, emperors and empresses.
An example of a ceremonial, monumental portrait of that time is the “Portrait of Murtaza-Kuli Khan”. A painting was painted in 1796, commissioned by the Empress Catherine II herself.
Before us is the Iranian prince Murtaza-Quli Khan, the brother of the ruler of Iran, Shah Aga-Mohammed Khan.
Catherine favored the troops of Murtaza, supported him in order to gain a foothold in the northern territories of Iran, which were very important for Russian trade. But Murtaza-Kuli Khan, having suffered several defeats, fled from his brother's revenge to St. Petersburg, where he was graciously received by the empress.
Paying attention to how Murtaza expertly examined and was interested in the beauty of the Hermitage, Catherine ordered Borovikovsky his portrait.
The position of the eastern khan is very majestic, important and even solemn. The left hand touches the saber, on the right hand are the rosary, showing his belonging to Islam.
The clothes are simply luxurious. Thanks to the talented brush of Borovikovsky, we can see how furs shimmer vibrantly on the shoulders and sleeves of a rich cape, how velvet dresses flicker with deep sapphire, how the fabric on the headdress reflects with golden highlights, how the jewels on the hilt and on the fingers shine nobly.
The prince’s face is very interesting: white, thin, with a black beard and sad, but in the east beautiful and mysterious eyes.
The general palette of colors of the canvas can even be called noble and refined, pleasant to perceive. The background is a mountain landscape, smoothly turning into green vegetation.
In the same year, Borovikovsky painted another sketch and a repeating portrait of Murtaza. In these works, behind the prince are mountains, people, and horses.
The Iranian Khan Murtaza never managed to return to his homeland; he died in Astrakhan in 1800.