Karl Bryullov was the son of a sculptor and showed a talent for drawing at an early age. He was an adherent of romanticism - but unlike Western romanticism, where harmony, beauty and a positive attitude towards the world prevail, late Russian romanticism manifested itself in tragic intonations and a general sense of the tragedy of life. Also, Russian romanticism is characterized by an interest in strong feelings and emotions, manifested in peak moments and situations. In this case, drama is inevitable in the description of unusual topics. The artist successfully combined all these features of the genre with classically perfect faces and the plasticity of his heroes. In addition to major genre works, Bryullov created a large number of portraits, as well-known figures of Russian culture, as well as his friends and acquaintances. In addition to oil painting, he successfully painted in watercolor.
Julia Pavlovna Samoilova was a close friend of Bryullov; rumor attributed to them a love affair. Independent, educated and unpredictable, Julia Pavlovna survived many short-lived novels; she did not need money and her life was truly brilliant. The beloved did not encroach on each other's personal life and simultaneously met with others. Karl often painted his girlfriend, and not only in those portraits that bear her name. For example, on his landmark canvas The Last Day of Pompeii, Julia is depicted three times - scaredly clutching two daughters (adopted girls of Paccini), knocked down to the ground, with luxurious forms, and with a clay jug next to the artist himself, saving cultural objects from red-hot lava .
The portrait of Countess Samoilova is one of the artist’s cult works, which at the time made a splash in Italy, where it was painted. In the picture we see a brilliant socialite, triumphantly beautiful, proud, dressed in a luxurious fancy dress. Running away from the holiday, the beauty stopped for a moment, having thrown off the mask. Between Samoilova and the hall from which she had just left, a red curtain was dropped, as if separating the heroine from high society, contrasting it.
The figures of the guests of the ball blur behind as if in cigarette smoke, seem faded and unimportant. The artist admires a bold, free woman who defied the foundations of society and lived as she herself wanted. Julia’s fancy dress has bright highlights, the intensity of the colors of the portrait is close to the Last Day of Pompeii. The abundance of red, in all its shades - from dark crimson and blood-red to delicate pink, is a characteristic feature of the picture. The second leading color is white; bluish on a smooth satin of a dress and warm, golden - in the image of softness of ermine fur. The pupil of Samoilova, Amalia Pacchini, tenderly clung to her adoptive mother, she was thoughtful and a little sad. It seems that what is happening at the ball did not please and even slightly scared the girl.
Andrea Mantegna Pictures