Dating to c.1730, this enamel on copper lifetime portrait of Empress Anna Ioannova of Russia comes from my personal collection of historic miniatures, and I am offering it for the first time for the consideration of my Ruby Lane clientele!
Anna of Russia or Anna Ioannovna (Russian: Анна Иоанновна) (7 February 1693- 28 October 1740) reigned as Duchess of Courland from 1711 to 1730 and as Empress of Russia from 1730 to 1740. Anna was the daughter of Ivan V of Russia, as well as the niece of Peter the Great. She married Frederick William, Duke of Courland in November 1710, but on the return trip from Saint Petersburg in January 1711, her husband died. Anna proceeded to rule Courland (now western Latvia) from 1711 to 1730. On the death of Peter II, Emperor of Russia, the Russian Supreme Privy Council made Anna Empress in 1730.
Measuring 1 5/8" x 1 1/4", this portrait miniature is painted in enamels on copper, and was in all likelihood painted to commemorate the coronation of Anna as Empress of Russia in 1730. The 37-year-old Empress is depicted quite realistically as a middle-aged woman with brown eyes and her dark hair worn in two characteristic love locks over her shoulders. Anna was famed for her big cheek, "which, as shown in her portraits", Carlyle says, "was comparable to a Westphalian ham." This example is no exception; it is the image of a dignified and very powerful lady, but one who is not particularly pretty. Anna wears the small, jeweled crown of the Empress of Russia, and the blue sash of monarchy across her low-necked white gown, with its broad lace border and red and gold embroidered bodice.
The Empress stands in an interior setting, against which one can see a drawn green curtain held open with a golden tassel to reveal a blue sky beyond. This setting represents the "dawn" of Anna's reign, and the hope she inspired in the people who wished to establish a constitutional monarchy in Russia. This hope would soon be extinguished, for Anna soon established herself as an unwise and autocratic ruler. Her selfishness and petty cruelties at court as well as her hostile international policies would prove a trial for her country, and after a somewhat disastrous 10-year reign, Anna died at the age of 47 of kidney disease. By this time, she had lost all popularity with the people, and was not mourned.
This portrait is a highly rare example of Russian portraiture, and has survived over 280 years in as pristine a condition as the most discerning collector could hope for! It is 100% intact, without chips, cracks or signs of wear; I strongly believe that after Anna's death, it was locked away by its original owner and forgotten for generations, but it has certainly been handled with extreme care ever since! This miniature deserves to be custom-mounted in a fine gold or silver frame, and is highly wearable. It is certainly the only example of lifetime Russian royal portraiture I have come across in my 25+ years as a dealer, collector and student of early miniatures, and it is nothing short of a miracle that it has survived in such untouched condition!
If you collect the ultimate in Russian art or portrait miniatures, this spotless jewel belongs in your collection! It would also make a historic holiday gift for any lady or gentleman fond of Russian history. This miniature has been in my collection for several years and is fresh to the open market; do not miss it! FREE USPS Priority shipping is my gift to you - Happy Holidays!
Your Specialists in Fine Jewelry and Decorative Arts from Antiquity - 1900. Est. 1987.
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