This charming, presently unidentified, portrait was executed the year of George Dawe's arrival in St Petersburg. Having been commissioned by Emperor Alexander I to paint over 300 portraits of the heroes of the Patriotic War of 1812 for the Winter Palace's War Gallery, Dawe began work in the spring of 1819. In addition to this, Dawe undertook the usual responsibilities of court painter which included painting the Imperial family and their close circle. His work proved a sensation in Russia; he was elected an honorary member of the Academy of Fine Arts in St Petersburg in 1820 and prompted no less a titan of the literary world than Alexander Pushkin to write a poem in his honour:
To Dawe, Esq. (1928)
Why does your wondrous pencil strive
My Moorish profile to elicit?
Your art will help it to survive,
But Mephistopheles will hiss it.
Draw Miss Olenin's face. To serve
His blazing inspiration's duty,
The genius should spend his verve
On homage but to youth and beauty.
This work is sold to benefit The Maryland School for the Blind, which was founded in 1853 to provide educational programs for young people who are blind or visually impaired. The portrait was a gift to the school over 30 years ago.