Artibus et Historiae no. 79 (XL)

2019, ISSN 0391-9064

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LARISA NIKIFOROVA, EKATERINA BLOKHINA - Portrait with a Black Page in Eighteenth-Century Russian Art and the Cultural Transfer of Signs (pp. 307–322)

Portraits with black pages constitute a special group of artwork in eighteenth-century Russian art. This motif is an example of cultural transfer, during which signs inevitably changed their meanings. The emergence of the portrait with a black page in sixteenth-century European painting was preceded by a long process of selecting and combining elements. By the end of the seventeenth century, the iconographic canon had been formed and became a representation of Europe’s cultural superiority over the non-European world. The transfer of the motif into Russian art at the beginning of the eighteenth century was accompanied by a reduction of the social referent and the use of details and nuances, and by the transformation of the image of cultural identity into the abstract sign of supreme authority. This motif was in demand in Russian art, due to the experiments in iconography, resulting from the general processes of Europeanization, the specific circumstances of the accession to the throne as a result of palace coups, as well as from the issue of representation of a female ruler.

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