Argunov, I. P.
"Portrait of Prince Ivan Ivanovich Lobanov-Rostovsky". 1750
Notes: Portrait of Prince Ivan Ivanovich Lobanov-Rostovsky (1731-1791)
Ivan Petrovich Argunov was the father of Nikolai Ivanovich Argunov (1771-1829), who studied with him and also devoted his career primarily to portraiture. I.P. Argunov, a serf of Counts P.V. and N.P. Sheremetev, received commissions from many nobles. But despite his work as a painter of the old and titled rich, he is most remembered for his images of rustic life, including his most celebrated work, a portrait of a rich peasant girl of 1784, which is now in the Tretyakov Gallery. This is the first portrait of such a subject done by a Russian artist trained in the Western style.
Like conservative English portraitists of the second half of the eighteenth century, Argunov sought to capture a likeness and to detail the clothing and accouterments that indicated a sitter's station. Although he was capable of conveying the psychology and character of his subjects, the majority of his extant efforts seem to have been directed toward pleasing rather than exploring. This direction should not be surprising given his social position. His son was released from serfdom only in 1816.