Russian Painter, 1735-1822
.Russian painter of Ukrainian birth. Together with Fyodor Rokotov and Vladimir Borovikovsky, he ranks foremost among 18th-century Russian portrait painters. He received his first lessons in painting from his father, Grigory Levitsky-Nos (1697-1769), a priest, engraver and painter. He also studied under Aleksey Antropov, who had come to Kiev to decorate St Andrew's church (1752-5). In the late 1750s Levitsky went with Antropov to St Petersburg, where he stayed until 1764; he continued with lessons from Antropov to whom, it appears, he owed the objectivity that was to characterize his work. It is probable that he also studied at the St Petersburg Academy of Arts, attending classes under Louis Lagren?e. Levitsky worked with Antropov on the decoration of triumphal arches in Moscow for Catherine II's coronation in 1762. His first known portraits are rather formal, for example that of the architect Aleksandr Kokorinov (1769; St Petersburg, Rus. Mus.), which won Levitsky the title of Academician in 1770. In such works he made successful use of a compositional structure typical of formal European portrait painting, intended to emphasize the importance of the sitter.