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Portrait of Catherine II

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Portrait of Catherine II

Made by: Levitskii, Dimitrii Grigorievich __Attr. ||Roslin, Alexander __After

On view in: Mansion Exhibit - Front Hall

About this object

This monumental presentation portrait of Catherine II reflects the important role that portraiture played in the political, economic, and social life of her long reign. Celebrated artists and anonymous painters alike turned out multiple copies of such stock portraits, and they were hung in official departments, residences of provincial governors, and educational and social institutions of which the empress served as the patron. In this case the portrait functioned as a reward for services rendered. The plaque on the original gold frame informs viewers that in 1788 the empress presented this portrait to Henry Hope, a British banker who had served as a financial advisor to Catherine.

Painting is a parade portrait of Catherine II in full length. She is depicted in full state regalia, dressed in white taffeta dress with plaited sleeves trimmed with a galloon of laurel leaves and gold braid, wearing an ermine cloak and satin mantle embroidered with double-headed eagles. Catherine gestures with the scepter in her right hand to the bust of Peter the Great in a niche behind her and to the orb and crown that rest on a velvet-covered stool beneath it. The motto "nachatoe sovershaet" (She completes what has been begun) is chiseled in Roman-style Cyrillic letters above Peter's head. Over the ermine cloak on Catherine's shoulders is the diamond-studded Collar of St. Andrew. Pinned on her left breast is the star of the Order of St. George, while suspended from the orange and black striped ribbon of the same order is the badge. In her right hand she holds a jeweled sceptre. The folds of her mantle are draped over the seat of the throne chair bearing the imperial coat-of-arms. At the upper right are the draped folds of a crimson curtain with a tasseled cord.

Object name:
Oil Painting
Made from:
Oil on canvas
Made in:
RUSSIA: Saint Petersburg
Date made:
ca. 1788
H. 106 in., W. 73 in.
overall __185.42 CM __269.24 CM

Detailed information for this item

Catalog number:
Signature marks:
INSCRIPTION __SEI PORTRET" EKATERINY VTOROI IMPERATRITSY I SAMODERZHITSY VSEROSSIISKOI POZHALOVAN" EIA IMPERATORSKIM VELICHESTVOM V" 1788m GODU OSPODINU GENRI GOPU ZA OKAZANNOE USERDIE PO DENEZHNYM" NEGOTSIAM" O KAKOVOM POZHALOVANII I UVEDOMLEN" ON" PIS'MOM" 28go AVGUSTA TOFO 1788go GODA ZA PODPISANIEM" UPOLNOMOCHENNIKH" DLIA INOSTRANNYKH" ZAIMOV" MINISTROV" KNIAZIA VIAZEMSKAGO GRAFA OSTERMANA GRAFA SHUVALOVA I GRAFA VORONTSOVA __Inscribed on metal plaque in 18thc. Cyrillic script. __Trans: "This portrait of Catherine the Second, Empress and Autocrat of all Russia is given by Her Imperial Majesty in 1788 to Mrs. Henry Hope for diligence shown in monetary negotiations, about which gift he is informed by a letter of August 28, 1788 with the signatures of the plenipotentiaries for foreign credit, the Ministers Prince Viazemskii, Count Osterman, Count Shuvalov, and Count Vorontsov.
Credit line:
Bequest of Marjorie Merriweather Post, 1973
Displayed in exhibition:
A Taste for Splendor: Russian Imperial and European Treasures from the Hillwood Museum. Organized by Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, 1998-2000
Featured in publication:
Fisher, Frederick, Karen Kettering, Anne Odom, Liana Paredes Arend, and Gwen Stauffer. Hillwood Museum and Gardens: Marjorie Merriweather Postâ019s Art Collectorâ019s Personal Museum. Washington, D.C.: Hillwood Museum and Gardens, 2000., Williams, Lucy Fowler. Gathering Voices: Thomas Jefferson and Native American, (April-December 2016).
Odom, Anne and Liana Paredes Arend. A Taste for Splendor: Russian Imperial and European Treasures from the Hillwood Museum. Edited by Nancy Eickel. Alexandria, VA: Art Services International, 1998.