Louis Caravaque
Portrait painter
Born: 13 January 1685, Marseilles, France
Died: 20(?) June 1752 St. Petersburg, Russia

One of the most successful foreign artists to work in Russia, Louis Caravaque is a shining examples of the Europeanization that Peter the Great sought to bring to his new city. Born into a family of artists in Marseilles, Caravaque began his career painting ships like his father, but his portraits attracted enough attention to warrant a contract in 1715 signed in Paris with Peter’s representative, Pyotr Lefort. Originally, Caravaque was contracted to come to Russia for three years to paint portraits, battle paintings, historical scenes and landscapes. By 1716, Caravaque was living in St. Petersburg, painting and teaching students. He accompanied Peter the Great to Astrakhan in 1722 where he painted a famous portrait of the Tsar.

Portrait of Peter the Great by Louis Caravaque
Portrait of Peter the Great by Louis Caravaque

Caravaque continued to be a dominant force in the world of portrait painting in the Russian court through the reigns of Catherine, Anna Ioannovna and Elizabeth, all of whom he painted. His work covers a variety of members of the Imperial family and the nobility at various stages in their lives. As well as portraits, Caravaque designed several interiors and painted a variety of battle scenes related to Peter’s military victories in the Northern Wars. He was also commissioned to paint several icons, becoming one of the first foreign artists to do so. Caravaque died in 1752 in St. Petersburg and was buried in the cemetery at St. Sampson Cathedral.

Works in Russia

Battle of Poltava (State Hermitage Museum), Portrait of Tsarevich Pyotr Petrovich as cupid (State Hermitage Museum), Portrait of Emperor Peter I (State Russian Museum), Portrait of Catherine I in a peignoir (State Russian Museum), Portrait of Tsarevnas Anna and Elizaveta Petrovna (State Russian Museum), Portrait of Tsarevna Elizaveta Petrovna as a child (State Russian Museum), Portrait of Peter I (Central Naval Museum), Portrait of Catherine II of Russia (Gatchina Palace)

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