Russian artist Karl Bryullov for many years was passionate about the effects of light which he tried to depict in his paintings. But where are the shades of color can be traced so intricately if not on a woman’s face?

In 1821 Bryullov was sent at the expense of the Society of promoting artists to Rome, where he dived into studying the creative works of Rembrandt and Velázquez, Van Dyck and Titian. And soon Bryullov is considered “the best painter in Rome.”

It was then when his lyrical sensual paintings were born: “Italian genre.”

“Italian Genre”: “Italian Morning” and “Italian Midday”

The first one from the series, “Italian Morning” immediately made ​​Bryullov famous.

In it Bryullov captures the allegory between the beginning of the day – the morning – and the beginning of a woman’s life – a girl, clean and fresh in the morning, lit by the morning sun behind her and glare from the water in the front. The piece was written from life.

Karl Bryullov - Italian morning, oil on canvas (1823)

Italian morning, oil on canvas (1823)

The second painting from the series, “Italian Midday” shows a bright midday, and the model – already a mature woman. The allegory of the artist continues. In this painting he departs from the academism while seeking to portray the play of light and shadow in the most realistic way. To do this, he makes strokes right at noon in the vineyard, where the midday sunlight falls through the grape leaves on his life model.

Karl Bryullov - IItalian Midday, oil on canvas (1827)

Italian Midday, oil on canvas (1827)

Mature beauty of the model and a ripe cluster of grapes in her hand. The flower of life in all its glorious manifestations.

It is interesting that at one time the paintings were hung in the private apartments of the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna. However, records indicate that artists and other people could request to see them.

A Rider

This is one of the most famous paintings by Karl Bryullov. It shows the pupils of Countess Samoilova, the artist’s muse.

This portrait distorts the existing traditions in painting – previously on horseback only crowned people were portrayed.

Perhaps, it was all due to the influence of the artist’s muse – Countess Samoilova. A recognized beauty, the center of attraction at any ball, Samoilova was extremely independent. She hosted a group of freethinkers at her residence. Because of that, she eventually had to move to Italy, where she met Bryullov.

Karl Bryullov - A rider. Portrait of Giovanina and Amacilia Pacini, the pupils of Countess Samoilova, oil on canvas, (1832)

A rider. Portrait of Giovanina and Amacilia Pacini, the pupils of Countess Samoilova, oil on canvas, (1832)

An absolutely calm face of an older girl – Giovanina, confidently sitting on a hot horse. And a childlike ingenuousness of meeting her younger girl – Amacilia.

Giovanina cannot show her emotions in front of Amacilia who adores her. Wonderful years of childhood and adolescence.


Karl Bryullov continued his quest in recreating a play of the sun on a woman’s body in his paintings. And the results of his search were reflected in his painting “Bathsheba.”

Sensual, erotic depiction of Bathsheba had to evoke certain thoughts in male viewers. To enhance the effect Bryullov also painted a maid with dark skin.

The painting depicts the story from the Old Testament. Bathsheba was a beauty. One day, King David saw from the roof of his palace at sunset naked Bathsheba who was about to bathe.

David was captured by passion. He ordered to bring Bathsheba over. Bathsheba became pregnant.

King David sends the husband of Bathsheba, Uriah, who was at that time away from home, to the very thick of battle. David orders:

“to the hottest battle, and leave him alone, so that he was struck and died”

(2Tsar.11: 15)

And Uriah really dies. Soon, David married Bathsheba. Bathsheba was the favorite wife of King David, but she behaved modestly. Bathsheba became a faithful and loving wife to King David, and a good mother to their children (Solomon and Nathan).

The painting was never finished – the water in the bath is only marked.

Karl Bryullov - Bathsheba, oil on canvas (1832)

Bathsheba, oil on canvas (1832)

Bible story is presented by the artist as an admiring panegyricto the beauty of the female body.

Portrait of M.A. Bek

In a series of portraits by Bryullov this portrait of a secular beauty stands out. The matter is in the beauty of the model itself. Almost perfect face, but the main thing – it’s her eyes. Thinking, sensual, alive.

Karl Bryullov - Portrait of M.A. Bek, oil on canvas (1840)

Portrait of M.A. Bek, oil on canvas (1840)


To discover Russia with Alexey Gureev


We are glad to discover Russia together with you!

We put our heart into the project. Join us on Facebook or Twitter: