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Portrait of the Grand Duchess Catherine Alexeevna (Catharine II). Mezzotint after Georg Christoph Grooth. 52.5 x 35 cm. Approx. 1748. Not in Nagler.
Having studied under Gabriel Bodenehr in Augsburg, the mezzotintist Johann Stenglin began his career at the local academy. In 1743 he was appointed to the court in St. Petersburg, where he took portraits of the imperial family and produced a series of mezzotint portraits of the Russian tsars. He worked at the city’s Academy of Sciences as well as for the publishing house of M. M. Artemyev in Moscow. Stenglin executed the portrait of the later empress, together with a companion piece showing Grand Duke Peter, on behalf of the Imperial Academy after paintings by Georg Christoph Grooth (1716 Stuttgart - 1749 St. Petersburg).
The print shows the later Empress Catherine the Great at the age of nineteen, three years after her marriage as Sophie Auguste Friederike von Anhalt-Zerbst to Grand Duke Peter, the heir to the Russian throne. She wears the badge of the Russian Order of Saint Catherine. This vivacious portrait after Grooth highlights not only Stenglin’s talent as a portraitist, but also his consummate mastery of the art of mezzotint, as demonstrated by his exquisite rendering of the lace-trimmed dress, the badges of the order and the jewels. This is an extremely rare impression, not known to Nagler. Only very few mezzotints from Russia have come down to us. A very fine, velvety impression with margins in pristine condition.