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Alexei Alexeivich Harlamoff was born near Saratov in 1840. At the age of 14 he joined the Academy of Fine Arts in Saint Petersburg. Winning a gold medal in 1868, Harlamoff then progressed to the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris where he was under the tutelage of Léon Bonnat, the famed portrait painter and teacher.

Harlamoff’s skill as a portraitist was widely noted, and he was much talked about among his peers of painters and writers in Paris’ café society. He exhibited at the Paris Salon regularly, and won a second-class medal at the 1878 Paris Universal Exhibition.

Harlamoff studied closely the work of the Old Masters, and in his early career produced both military scenes and religious subject matter. As his career progressed, he enjoyed the patronage of numerous distinguished sitters including Tsar Alexander II, Ivan Tourgueneff and Prince Demidoff-San Domato. By the 1880’s Harlamoff was being noticed for his portraits of peasant girls, which celebrate beauty and innocence. Utilising flowers as symbols of youth and the passage of time, and through the introduction of textiles and dress, he also maintained an overall Russian aesthetic to his portraits. It was these subjects, painted with enormous sensitivity, which gained him the international fame and recognition. Using soft and natural colours and light he catches the youth and innocence of the sitters. His work found a strong following amongst European and US collectors.

Harlamoff’s work is to be found in numerous prestigious museum collections, including those of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; The Athenaeum; Chi-Mei Museum, Taiwan; Alexander III Museum, St Petersburg; Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow.

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