“The youngest daughter of Russian Emperor Nicholas I and his wife Alexandra Feodorovna, Alexandra Nikolaevna (nicknamed Adini in the family circle) was just fifteen years old when she posed for Christina Robertson in the summer of 1840 at the imperial summer residence, the Great Peterhof Palace… Contemporaries praised untiringly her unworldly character, her angelic kindness, her meekness and gentleness… Robertson showed her with a bouquet of cornflowers, fully in keeping with the lack of artifice that made her so loved. To her left on the balustrade lie an open album and a pencil. For Alexandra, drawing and particularly music were not merely part of acquiring the accomplishments of a noble young lady; she was a talented singer and took lessons from the renowned singer Henrietta Sontag. But tuberculosis put an end first to her lessons and then to her brief life: she died just a few years after the portrait was completed.”
– from An Imperial Collection: Women Artists from the State Hermitage Museum.
64 days in heaven and hell (108) Day 22, November 13 At this time, Van Gogh felt comfortable in Gauguin’s presence, whom he saw as a great artist and a friend. He was now ready to try new things. Gauguin encouraged him to work from memory and imagination.
I’m going to set myself to work often from memory, and the canvases done from memory are always less awkward and have a more artistic look than the studies from nature…
(Letter 718 to Theo, November 10, 1888)
He painted this vibrant summertime bullfight scene on a drizzly day in november.
Vincent van Gogh, Les arènes d’Arles (Spectators in the Arena), November 1888. Oil on canvas, 73 x 92 cm. State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia (F 548, JH 1653)