This coronation portrait of Catherine the Great (1729–1796) combines the traditions of formal imperial portraiture of the first half of the 18th century with its characteristic grandeur and presentational image, and the new tendencies which arose under the influence of the New Age. In Russian culture the ideal of an enlightened monarch was forming. Seated on the throne, Catherine II makes a gesture of majestic grace as she seems to address an unseen interlocutor. This gives the image of the Empress liveliness and a slight nuance of intimacy. However the tsarist rank of the Sovereign, her profile which resembles a cameo from Antiquity, her lavish dress, and the precise “enumeration” in the portrait of the tsarist regalia, as well as the massive base of the column and heavy drapery all form a festive and impressive composition which lends to the image of the heroine an ideal, timeless character. Catherine the Great considered this portrait one of the most successful among the many depictions of her.
Portrait of Catherine II by Fedor Stepanovich Rokotov (1763)