Lyrical Poetry and Portraiture of the Catherine Epoch: The Logic of the Counterflow

Tyumen State University Herald. Humanities Research. Humanitates


2018, Vol. 4. №4

Lyrical Poetry and Portraiture of the Catherine Epoch: The Logic of the Counterflow

For citation: Ivanitskiy A. I. 2018 “Lyrical Poetry and Portraiture of the Catherine Epoch: The Logic of the Counterflow”. Tyumen State University Herald. Humanities Research. Humanitates, vol. 4, no 4, pp. 160-179. DOI: 10.21684/2411-197X-2018-4-4-160-179

About the author:

Alexander I. Ivanitskiy, Dr. Sci. (Philol.), Lead Researcher, Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, Russian State University for the Humanities (Moscow);


The Russian poetry and the portraiture of the last third of the 18th century became a common field of the nobleman’s personal sovereignization, which predetermined their mutual influence. This dialogue, however, was initiated by Catherine the Great herself. Therefore, the intimate portrait of rococo and sentimentalism that were initially the forms of the noblemen’s opposition to the capital and to the Empress interacted with poetry according to the Catherine’s model, in particular, in G. Derzhavin’s poetic programs and reviews in respect to the portrait of Catherine the Legislatress by D. G. Levitsky.

First of all, poetry and painting acted, respectively, as illustration and ecphrasis to each other. Every time they corrected the meaning of the sample and transformed the dialogue into a chain of meanings. Secondly, the result of the unfolding of this chain was the interconnection of the maximum generalization of the image and its intimization, set by Derzhavin. By giving sacral meanings to the space of the rococo intimate portrait’s model, F. S. Rokotov turned it, on the one hand, into a ceremonial one, and on the other, into an intimate one, making the model a subject of the author’s recollection or imagination. Contemporary poetry went the other way. Having sacralized the image of the intimate person, the poet pursued to be reconciled with the demise of this person or to resist it.

V. L. Borovikovsky evolved in his intimate portraits the poetic motive of sentimentalism about the rural idyll left with the youth as the chronotope of the lost “golden age”. On the one hand, he personalized this chronotope in the female image; on the other, he made this image the subject of the intimate remembrance.


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