The painting seems to have been commissioned by Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna, the wife of the Russian emperor Nicholas I, who was born a Prussian princess with the name Frederica Louise Charlotte Wilhelmina and was the first daughter of King Friedrich III and Louise, whose names were associated with the construction of the mausoleum depicted in Lütke’s picture. In turn, Peacock Island is important in the biography of Wilhelmina, that is Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna. In her early years the princess spent her summers around a zoological garden and exotic aviary on an island in the river Havel, a tributary of the Elbe in the vicinity of modern Potsdam. In 1820, Grand Duke Nikolai Pavlovich, future Emperor Nicholas I, made a trip with Alexandra to her family home. During this visit, Alexandra spent most of her time on the island, reminiscing about her happy childhood. Before the arrival of the dignitaries, in the vicinity of the island a three-story izba (wooden cottage) was built, with a balcony that offered stunning views of the surrounding landscape, and with a Russian roller coaster nearby.
The painting was probably commissioned in memory of this stay in a place dear to the Empress’s heart. Lütke’s work is indisputable evidence of his status of a court painter and his success in aristocratic circles, without which he would never have been such an important order like this one for Emperor Nicholas I and his wife. The author’s fame is also indicated by the fact that he spent all the years of his life in his hometown, except for some time spent studying and traveling—he received a sufficient number of commissions to allow him to stay at his place of residence and earn income there.
No wonder, then, that Peter Lütke’s works are included in the most important museum collections in Germany.
A half-length portrait of a man, turned ¾ to the right, on a solid gray-brown background. The artist depicted himself as an aging man, with his long gray hair combed back, leaving his high forehead visible, and with his gaze directed inward. His elbows are bent and his arms are crossed at chest level; he is holding a pencil and a notebook. He is wearing a simple brown coat, yellow waistcoat, and colorful shirt, with a light-colored cravat tied around his neck.
The painting has soft and muted colors, with a predominance of brown, yellow, gold, pale pink, and silver tones.
The painter Martin Ferdinand Quadal is a representative of the Austrian school of painting. He studied in the academies of Vienna and Paris. He worked in England, Italy, Austria, Holland, Germany, and St. Petersburg. He painted portraits, genre scenes, and still lifes, as well as animal and battle scenes.
Self-portraits are an important part of Quadal’s œuvre. This self-portrait, painted in St. Petersburg, is distinguished by its freedom and subtlety of its style. Quadal’s works are displayed in both Western European and Russian collections, including the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, the State Hermitage, and the State Tretyakov Gallery.
A half-length portrait of a woman on a neutral background, facing forward, with her head turned slightly to the left. The lady is wearing a light brocade dress with a low neckline, hoop skirt, and corset, embellished with embroidery and lace. On the left side of her chest is lady-in-waiting’s bow with a monogram indicating her status. Behind her is a red cape or cloak.
The portrait was professionally made (though it seems to be unfinished), and is of great interest, especially since German portraiture of the 1830s is poorly represented in museum collections in our country.
In its iconography, the portrait is similar to a portrait of the young Catherine II, painted by an unknown artist and kept in the Tropinin Museum, and other portraits by Moscow artists of the time.
Similar images of Our Lady of Sorrows and the Passion of Christ were painted for devozione private (private devotions) and enjoyed great success among the artist’s contemporaries. Guido Reni himself created the classic and canonical versions of these images, which became widespread in the Catholic world into the 19th century. He was assisted by artists from his workshop. It is quite probable that this work was painted by the venerable artist, Guido Reni.
A bust-length miniature portrait of Marie Antoinette, turned ¾ to the right, on a gray-greenish background. Her light gray hair is arranged in a complicated lush coiffure with curls falling on her shoulders. The queen is wearing a turban-like hat, decorated with colorful ostrich feathers and ribbons. Her neck is encircled by a double string of large pearls.
She is wearing a golden dress with a low square neckline decorated with lace.
On the reverse side of the miniature is a leather lining, in which “Marie Antoinette ? 1786” is written in black ink.
The miniature is a stylized version of late 18th-century portraits. Marie Antoinette, along with Napoleon Bonaparte, was one of the most popular historical figures in the mid-19th century.
Masonic armband for the right arm: same description.
Blue moire ribbon with a gold-wire inscription of 5 lines: “ROH / PRESENTED TO / BRO LYONS / PAGET / LODGE №849”. From the front side the ends of the ribbon are stitched to a golden emblem, and on the back, to a label with Masonic symbols and an inscription of 7 lines:
“HENRY SLINGSBY LT REGALIA MASONIC CLOTHING MANYFECTYRERS NYNEATON”. The ends of the ribbon are adorned with gold braid and a yellow fringe.
A rectangular snuff box with cut corners and a hinged lid. A medal has been placed in the box underneath glass. The medal is dedicated to the end of the Napoleonic Wars in Europe. The medal depicts relief profiles of the Emperors Alexander I, Franz II, and Wilhelm III. Over the image is the inscription “Their Majesties Alexander I, Franz II, and Wilhelm III”, and under the image is the date “1814".
The bottle has a glass stopper and a metal screw cap. It has a trapezoidal shape and is made of transparent, colorless glass, with a narrow neck. From the outside the opening has white metal threads for screwing the top.
The stopper is recessed and ground from transparent glass in the shape of a mushroom.
The cover has a screw top made of white metal, shiny, mushroom-shaped with a profile on the upper edge. It has a protuberance on the foot and the label: “GESCHUTZT”.
Jardiniere in the form of a hemispherical bowl on three legs. The top of the cup is smooth, and the edge is curved. It has a relief frieze of stylized leaves. From the center of the bowl intricately curved branches hang down. The legs are decorative: at the top there are sculpted heads of sheep, and in the middle there is bunch of berries with leaves, intertwined with a ribbon bow at the bottom. The lower part of the legs features cabrioles with cloven hooves. Both parts of the legs are connected with a triangular plate, from which a curved stem rises up.
The long, narrow, cylinder-shaped beaded case is fitting snugly to the wooden base of a smoking pipe (chuck). The design was formed in a spiral pattern during knitting. It depicts a series of bouquets of flowers on a silver field, made mainly of small clear beads. The cylinder has a ring of bead ornaments at both ends. The wooden base has a screw thread on both sides.
Opera glasses in an evening handbag, in a leather case with an overlay of white metal on the top, shaped like a flower garland. A narrow strip of yellow metal with eyepieces at the edges, a rack mechanism, and a foldable frame with the lenses located between the two covers of the case, covered with brown leather. The horizontal covers upon opening are put at an angle to each other. When open, the device has the form of a truncated pyramid. The handle is made of chain.
This item is made from a dark brown horn, with a removable wooden plug at the narrow end. The wide end of the powder horn is tightly closed with a metal plate lid. On the body there are two metal plates with movable rings for the string. The string is a twisted cord of red and yellow threads. The flask is decorated with round metal plates in the form of rings.
Fan with painting of fishing on a screen lace of 18 plates. This is a folding fan in the form of a semicircle of white lace on a frame of dark-yellow translucent cellulose. In the center of the screen is a painting of a young couple on the shore of the water: the sitting figure of a girl in a white tunic; to the left a male figure with a fishing rod; and on the right a soaring cupid with a garland of white flowers. Under the screen, on the reverse side, thin wooden plates are glued with rows of holes for fastening.
A “miracle” candlestick for two candles with a rectangular screen. The stand consists of a four-sided rod with pommels of leaves and flowers. At the bottom there is an ornament of lattice, flowers, and ribbons. On the rod there are moveable mounts for the candles shaped like a horizontally elongated stems with volute leaves. At the ends of the stem there are heads of birds of prey with crowns. In the middle of each horn-mount there is a candle holder in the form of a vase on a profiled foot. The base is hollow, round, profiled, convex, and contains small ornaments; it is filled with plaster and covered with green cloth.
Stand for table knives in the shape of two oak trees, with a bridge between them. The trees are on the sides and are leaning away from the center. There are acorns on a few branches. At the bottom and top of the crowns of the trees, there are two horizontal, slightly curved crossbars with twelve cut transverse holes for utensils.
The upper crossbar is wider than the bottom, with larger apertures, and is bent in an arch, at the top of which a tall handle is mounted. It has the form of a diamond, branches, and a pentagon. The stand has a black base shaped like a hill of earth, with relief roots, bushes of grass, leaves, and flowers; and on the edge, curls of leaves and roots, forming stylized feet. On the base of the front foot is an oval stamp:
“Plewkiewicz / w / Warszawie”.
Desk veneered in mahogany, with three drawers, on four legs.
The front edge of the desk and the side-bar are curved. Under the top there are three drawers, the two on the side are smaller than the middle one. The drawers have metal Mortice locks. Inside the rear wall of the middle drawer are three drawers with handles. On the interior drawer there is a handwritten inscription (illegible). The table has four legs: two front column legs and two back board-shaped leg supports. The legs stand on a massive base of rectangular shape with four short circular legs underneath.
Table of Svistunov
Inkstand of gray metal with a “Deer hunter” figurine. A tray for writing implements has the form of a bent sheet on four curved legs, decorated with the relief branches. Between the legs on the plate is the engraved inscription: “K. P. Pankov / 6 Dec. 1915.” On the back side is the stamp: “PLEWKIEWICZ W WARSZAWIE”. On the tray in front of the sculpture is a square hollow for the inkwell. The inkwell is removable, in the shape of a cast cube with facets on the edges and a metal hinged lid with a sprig of oak.
Wall mirror in a rectangular, wooden, carved stucco frame. Along the flat rectangular frame, cut decoratively with semicircles at the top, there is a profiled stucco molding with Neo-Rococo ornaments: in the lower corners and in the middle of the frame there are curls of acanthus leaves; at the top of the frame there is a broken shell, flowers, C-shaped curls, and curls of leaves. The frame is painted in light beige paint with a blue “ribbon”. The mirror glass is recent.