The girl who came down from heaven and the love of a captive artist (9 photos)

6 April 2024
Category: painting, 16+

It seems that the paths of these people were never destined not only to cross, but even to get closer to each other. But fate decreed otherwise.

Grigory Lapchenko was born in 1801 into a Cossack family that became serfs, probably back in Catherine’s era. Since childhood, the boy demonstrated a talent for drawing.

Portrait of Vittoria. Julius von Carolsfeld

With the encouragement and assistance of his owner, the ambitious Count M.S. Vorontsov, who passionately wanted to have his own serf painter, Grigory entered the Academy of Arts. Having brilliantly graduated from an educational institution in the class of historical painting, he, together with Alexander Ivanov, another young artist, went on an internship to Italy.

Girl from Albano

Portrait of Vittoria Caldoni. Franz Xaver Winterhalter

The year was 1820. A kind of community of free artists formed in Rome. United by common views and a desire to see beauty and show it to others, the young people met to have lunch, attend cultural events, and discuss each other's work. And, of course, they looked for sitters. And models.

Portrait of Vittoria. I. Shapovalov

Providence subsequently sent them a meeting with one such – a very young beauty. Vittoria Caldoni, the daughter of a local winemaker, became a model at the age of 13. Art collector August Kästner, who met a lovely girl who looked like an angel at a well, had great difficulty persuading his family to let her pose.

Portrait of Vittoria. A. Riedel

But as a result, the girl became a muse, whose images were captured by such masters as Joseph Anton Nikolaus Settegast, Charlemagne Oscar Huet, Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld, Franz-Ludwig Katel, Rudolf Schadow, Bertel Thorvaldsen and others.

Sculpture by R. Shadov

When, 10 years after the events described, Ivanov and Lapchenko arrived in Albano, they stayed in the house of the Caldoni family. And both were captivated by Vittoria’s beauty. The girl gave preference to Gregory.

"Bather". Early 1830s. Lapchenko Grigory Ignatievich

The lovers got married a few years later and decided to return home. Vorontsov entrusted the former serf with the management of one of the estates. The fact is that due to retinal dystrophy, the painter was rapidly losing his sight and could no longer paint. But there was a definite plus in this: Lapchenko did not see the fading of his beloved woman and forever remembered her as young and beautiful.

"Susanna caught by the elders." 1831 Lapchenko Grigory Ignatievich

In 1841, the couple had their only son, Sergei. In an effort to find a suitable climate for heat-loving Vittoria, they moved several times. As a result, at the end of their lives, the couple settled in St. Petersburg, where Grigory Ignatievich spent the last five years of his life and died in 1876.

Vittoria and Grigory Lapchenko

The exact date of death of Vittoria Lapchenko-Caldoni, who left sunny Italy forever for the sake of love, is unknown. However, there is something symbolic in this. After all, true love and beauty, which has inspired many masters to create amazing masterpieces, is immortal...

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