Russian Painter, 1782-1836
Russian painter and draughtsman. The leading Russian portrait painter of the Romantic period, he was the illegitimate son of the landowner A. D'yakonov and was adopted by his serf, Adam Shval'b and granted his freedom at birth. His surname is unconnected with that of either his real or his adoptive father, and its origin is uncertain. In 1798 he was sent to the St Petersburg Academy of Arts, eventually studying history painting under Gabriel-Francois Doyen and Grigory Ugryumov. In 1805 he received an important gold medal for his painting Dmitry Donskoy on the Field of Kulikovo (St Petersburg, Rus. Mus.) and won the right to travel to Italy on a scholarship. He did not, however, do so immediately, because of the tense political situation in Europe. Kiprensky's history painting was in keeping with the patriotic mood of Russian society during the years of the war against Napoleon.