home ¯: discussion


Taras Voznyak

Giovanni Battista Lampi and the glitter of absolutism

To understand the artist, you need to understand the time in which he created. The end of the XVIII century was the apogee, which in Europe reached absolutism.France set the fashion for the absolute power of the monarch.The most known absolute monarch was Louis XIV "Sun King" (Louis XIV, 1638-1715), who ruled France from 1643 to 1715. Numerous quotes have been attributed to Louis XIV by legend. The well-known "I am the state" .

  But the image of the” Sun King” needed visualization.

   Therefore, Louis XIV mobilized visual arts for the creation and spreading his image as the center of the world.This concerned all types of arts - painting, music, poetry. And especially such a synthetic genre as ballet.Since 1661, the court ballet was put into service in the public interest, helping the king not only create his representative image, but also manage the community.The roles in these productions were distributed only by the king and his friend - earl de Saint-Enyang. Blood princes and courtiers, dancing alongside their sovereign, portrayed various elements, planets and other objects and phenomena that are subject to the Sun.Louis himself continues to appear in the image of the Sun, Apollo and other gods and heroes of antiquity.

  However, the ballet performance was seen not by so many courtiers.. In front of the absolute monarchy was the task of replicating the image of the “Sun King” and fixing it as the visual image - a visual message, which was longer than the ballet performance.

   Therefore, under the rule of Louis XIV, the art of an official portrait - a portrait that represents not a real person but the image - the "Sun King" flourished

   And how, as a rule, want to present themselves governors of all time?Of course, in the images of the god of the war of Mars, it is probably not always dressed in the peoples of the ancient Greeks, as taking on a proud posture in the portrait, in the form of the omnipotent and omnipotent Zeus or Jupiter with the patrician in his hand, in the form of the woman-warrior of Athens, or the seductive Aphrodite or Venus.

   And the court painters caught this irresistible desire of those in power - they began to portray their rulers in the images that they were impressed with.

   From the second half of the XVII century, the dominant position in the world of fashion, covering all forms of functioning of the courtyard, began to occupy the French court of Louis XIV. French taste and fashion captured the whole Europe and did not cease to dominate for centuries. So the fashion for the court portrait and absolutism in the French style spread to the neighboring monarchy.

  And the XVIII century was the rise of absolutism throughout the Europe.The Holy Roman Empire of the Germanic nation was transformed into the Austrian Empire of the Habsburgs under Franz II (Franz II, Joseph Karl, 1768-1835), into which among other kingdoms included the Tirol (Gefürstete Grafschaft Tirol), the birthplace of Giovanni Batiste Lampi .Muscovy was transformed into a Russian empire and reached the absolute apogee with the Catherine the Great(

 Sophie Auguste Friederike von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg, 1729-1796).Similarly, the absolute apogee of Friedrich II (Friedrich II., Friedrich der Große, Alter Fritz, 1712-1786) reached its native Kingdom of Prussia (Königreich Preußen).

   However, it was not possible to impose absolutism on the archaic at that time of the Commonwealth, which was torn apart by internal conflicts.Gentry democracy could not afford it. What also led at the end of the XVIII century to the fact that the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was divided  by Russia, Austria and Prussia.But, the agony lasted  long and beautiful - and also snapped for the salvage straw of the ceremonial portrait. The portraits of the gentry of that period had nothing to do, besides honor and powerlessness.

   Therefore, the strengths of this world, following the French royal (in the days of Louis XIV, the King of the Sun), and then the imperial court (during the days of Napoléon Bonaparte, 1769-1821)  awakened a huge demand for  more or less court portrait.

  And it was then that in the Tyrol area of Romeno, at the intersection of the Germanic and Romanesque worlds, or Austria and Italy, as we now say, was born Johann Baptist Lampi or Johann Baptist von Lampi der Altere, Giovanni Battista Lampi, 1751 -1830).He was born as a fourteenth child in the family of Tyrolean artist Matthias Lamp (1698-1780), an illegally born son of a peasant from Pusterstall, obviously an Austrian. Mother was rather Italian, Chiara Margherita Lorenzoni (1706-1752). Therefore, his Italian-Austrian dualism is not only a tribute to the fashion of Italianizing their names to sell more profitable their canvases.Under the guidance of his father Giovanni Battista Lampi  received elementary artistic education. He perfected his skill in Franz Xaver König (1711-1782) and Franz Nikolaus Streicher,( 1736-1811) in Salzburg, then in his cousin (Pietro Antonio Lorenzoni/Lorenzi (1721-1782), who was the student of a great Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, (1696-1770).Later Giovanni Battista Lampi he entered Verona.Already at this time he painted the ceiling, the church, wrote historical paintings.His successes were so rapid that the Verona Academy of Fine Arts chose him at his age when he was 25 years old. But this was not his genre.Giovanni Battista Lampi was the master of official portrait. Further, his trips related to orders are more and more unfolding - Trento, Rovereto, Innsbruck, Klagenfurt and, finally, Vienna.

   In 1783, the artist began to officially call himself Giovanni Battista Lampi.Then in Vienna were popular italian artistic trends.There was a struggle between a highly refined Italian culture and a national one - German or Austrian.This is evident both in the opera, in literature, and in painting. To some extent, this is also a struggle for daily bread. In Vienna hid neighbor was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, (1756-1791).In Vienna he had a lot of customers. Among the first are naturalists and masons Ignaz von Born, banker Johann Fries and general Ludwig von Terzi. Between the other Lampi also portrayed Mozart's wife’s sister  Aloisia Lange geborene Weber as Zemir in the opera André-Ernest-Modeste Grétry (1741-1813) Zémire et Azor. In 1784, the courtyard invited him to write a portrait of Elisabeth von Württemberg (1767-1790), the bride of the future emperor Franz II.In 1785, Lampi reached the academic peaks - he became a member of the Academy of Fine Arts. Lampe begins to serve the absolutism in Austria.He wrote a monumental portrait of Emperor Joseph II.The portrait became the icon of his reign.Because of this  the emperor appointed him as a professor of the history of painting at the Academy.

   But Lampi was not limited to the Habsburg Empire.In 1786, he sent three ceremonial portraits of Joseph II, Franz II and Elizabeth von Wurtemberg - to St. Petersburg.The portraits were to show the power of the Habsburg House, and at the same time to create the renown for a court painter of the highest level for Lampi.He understood the enormous field of orders in the aggressive and dominant Russia.

   In 1788-1791 Lampi was already in Warsaw.He wrote a portrait of the last king of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth  - Stanisław II August, Stanisław Antoni Poniatowski, (1732-1798), the lovers of Catherine II.

   In Warsaw, Lampi wrote many portraits of the magnates of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, including the nobles from Podillya.

   In 1790, Russian commander Grigory Potemkin, (1739-1791), another lover of  Catherine II, invited Lampi to his headquarters in Iași, because there  was the war with Turkey. When the artist arrived to the capital of Moldova, Potemkin died.But General Vasily Popov, (1745-1822) gave him an invitation to visit Catherine II in St. Petersburg. She also wanted, like Joseph II, to appear in a certain monumental form, at least in the likeness of Athena Pallas (Αθηνά Παλλάς), Athena's-warriors.

   Theoretically, the absolute monarch executes all power, but in practice, the monarchy is balanced by political groups from among the social classes , such as the aristocracy, the clergy, the middle and lower classes.And they also do not mind to appear in the likes of the Greco-Roman Gods. Consequently, the field of orders is enormous.

   And Lampi wrote a portrait of the Greek courtesan Zofia de Witt, (Zofia Konstantynowna Glavani, primo voto Witt, secundo voto Potocka) from Istanbul, as a Venus winner, who made a huge career in this field.And the empress himself from the provincial Szczecin, from a rather modest Prussian family, suddenly becomes the lord of the sixth part of the world, the Catherine II, called the Great.

According to the artist Martin Johann Schmidt, (1718-1801), Lumpi earned in Russia 100,000 gold rubles.For a monumental portrait of the Empress, he received 12,000 rubles.At that time, it was an unprecedented amount of money. Lampi portrayed according to all the canons of the main portrait of the absolute monarch Catherine II, who was a little bit tired of years and lovers.Still this portrait is an icon of Russian monarchists-the proud posture, the figure is hidden behind the drapery, the arsenal of regalia as a protective armor.

   The courtiers did not fall behind-Vasily Popov (1791),Franciszek Ksawery Branicki (1791),Peter (the favorite of Catherine II, 1792/93), Vera Zavadovsky (1796), Yekaterina Stroganova (1793), Aleksei Arakcheev (1793/94), Yekaterina and Ivan Lazarev (1793-1797), Yekaterina  and Aleksandr Samoylov (1794), Aleksei Musin-Pushkin (1794), Szczęsny Jerzy Potocki(1795-1797),Catherine Dolgorukov(1796),Marianna Zamoyska, (1801), Boris Galitsin (1801-1806), Tatyana Yusupova,Alexander Bezborodko (1794) ,well, and of course, one of Odessa's founders, Admiral José de Ribas (1796).Platon Zubov, the last favorite of the tired Catherine II, ordered almost imperial portrait (1802).A mixture of high aristocracy and situational scammers - an image of the era of fin de siècle - the epoch on the eve of a catastrophic breaking ancien régime.However, they all do not feel it. They are still Mars, Venus and Jupiter .And with the change of the ruler, the absolute monarch Lympi wrote a portrait of Alexander I and his brother Constantine.However, nothing is eternal in this world.In 1797, by Decree of Paul I (Pavel Petrovich, 1754-1801) - half-crazy emperor - the Russian treasury discontinued to pay Lampi annual retirement.Perhaps because the emperor understood that any portrait for him would be a caricature.Even "mommy" did not like him and hid from human eyes. Therefore, Lampi was forced to return to Vienna. St. Petersburg’s  fairytale ended .

   But there are not so ironic Ukrainian accents in the biography of Lampi.Among his students was Vladimir Borovikovsky, whom he highly valued and even became for him not only a teacher, but also a friend.In 1795, at the request of Lampi, Borovikovsky was admitted to the Academy.When Lampi departed in in 1797 from St. Petersburg to Vienna,he left his studio to Vladimir Borovikovsky.

   In Vienna, Lampi made another effort - he opened a workshop.He had so many orders-bishop Girolamo Luigi Crivelli, (1779), Giuseppina Cles (1780/81), Johann von Fries (1783), Joseph von Sperges (1784), Charles Whitworth, (1788-1790) , Johann von Nicolay (1794), Ludwig Heinrich von Nicolay (1794), Giulio Renato Litta (1794-1797), Franz Jäger (1809), Anton von Leeb (Anton von Leeb, (1812), Pauline von Schwarzenberg (1812),cardinal Ercole Consalvi, (1814/15)-the list can be continued and continued.

   He managed to get an order even in Sweden - wrote a portrait of the king Gustav IV Adolf, (1778-1837). Lampi is an artist who is constantly looking for and finds particularly attractive orders and patrons.He quickly gained the fame of a fashionable painter, and with incredible ease he performed numerous and generously paid orders.In contrast to Lampi, Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828), he painted a portrait of the royal family of Spain - "The Homeland of King Charles IV" (1800-1801) - he did not even try to please this degenerate family.Goya was a revolutionary both in life and in the painting, for what he had been brutally paid. Lampi chose a different path - the path to comfort and success.Not because of artistic innovation, but because of the usual success.There was not almost anyone under Russian and Austrian courts,whom Lampi didn’t portray .Should we discard it? Of course, no. He showed an incredibly precise era of absolutism.

   His portraits created the image of successful courtiers, who had a brilliant career behind them and occupied a prominent position at the court. Therefore, the main place in the artist's work is the formal and semi-official portraits.Lampi was especially able to place nature and decorate her, the faces of customers are self-confident and proud, he was able to please the customer. Lampi was especially able to place stature and decorate it, the faces of customers were self-confident and proud, he was able to please the customer.At the same time, he skillfully took into account the features of not always brilliant figures, so the portraits were recognizable. In his paintings , we can notice the artificial beauty, detachment from the realities of life. But all this together makes Lampi one of the best masters among portraiture of his time - a time of high upsurge of absolutism.



24 March 2018