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Restoration of the painting "Portrait of Catherine II in Front of a Mirror" by Vigilius Eriksen

  • Before restoration
  • During restoration
  • During restoration
  • After restoration
  • Fragment before restoration
  • Fragment after restoration
  • Fragment before restoration
  • Fragment after restoration
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The portrait of Catherine II in front of a mirror is one of the most interesting images of the Empress, created shortly after she came to the throne. She is depicted wearing a ceremonial dress with the sash, star and badge of the Order of St. Andrew the First-Called and the Small Imperial Crown. On the cushions in front of the mirror are the rest of the imperial regalia: the Large Imperial Crown, created by Jérémie Pauzié specially for the coronation (1762), the sceptre and the orb. Pauzié recorded in his memoirs that for the crown he selected the imperial treasury’s largest stones, diamonds and other gemstones, making the crown “the richest thing in Europe”. The crown is topped by a red spinel weighing 398.72 carats – one of the largest historical gemstones in Russia.

This portrait can be considered tone of the best, not only in the career of the Danish painter Vigilius Eriksen, but generally among the many images produced of the Empress. Eriksen used a very successful compositional approach here, which allowed him to show his subject both full-face and in profile. The painter achieved a striking effect in this double portrait, depicting two aspects of Catherine: the profile image almost severe, distant, as on a coin, a representation of the Empress of All the Russias, and the friendly face of an intelligent, charming woman turned toward the viewer.

The earliest mentions of the portrait date from 1762–63. In the 19th century, the painting hung in the Romanov Gallery of the Small Hermitage among other portraits of members of the House of Romanov.

The restoration project included the following work: strengthen of the primer and paint layer across the entire surface; removal of superficial soiling; test removals of varnish and overpaintings; thinning and smoothing of the old varnish layer across the entire surface of the painting; removal of old restoration modifications of colour; second restoration of varnish; new coating of varnish; making good  losses of paint.

The staff members of the State Hermitage’s Laboratory for the Scientific Restoration of Easel Painting  who worked on the restoration were:

Korobov V.A.

Head of the Laboratory 

Kiselev S.A. 

Artist-restorer

Semenova L.E.

Artist-restorer

The project was realized with the support of the Coca-Cola Company and the Coca-Cola Foundation