Why the painting “The Last Day of Pompeii” depicts four identical women

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Karl Bryullov’s majestic canvas “The Last Day of Pompeii” amazed contemporaries with its scale and complex composition. Among the many characters, the attentive viewer will surely notice four women who are very similar to each other. The similarity is not accidental – they had one model. Details – in the article “Rambler”.

Photo: Wikimedia / Karl BryullovWikimedia / Karl Bryullov

Excavations at Pompeii and Herculaneum, two ancient cities destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius, were fashionable at the time. Paintings for this subject were painted by John Martin, Alessandro Sancuiriko, Luigi Rossini and other painters. This story captured Bryullov, who also visited the ruins of Pompeii.

The central point of the picture is a black-haired woman with a child who crashed to death. The same brunette is depicted on the left with a jug on her head and frozen horror on her face, in the image of a mother hugging her daughters, as well as a woman who and her husband save their children. Beloved, muse and patron of the artist Julia Pavlovna Samoilova became the model for all four heroines.

Wikimedia / Karl Bryullov

The famous secular lioness was the daughter of General Paul Palen and Maria Skavronskaya, the heiress of a huge fortune and the last representative of the family, who went back to the relatives of Empress Catherine I. However, in the light is in fact the daughter of Giulio Litta. Especially since the girl really looked like an Italian.

In 1804, Paul and Mary separated, and the young daughter grew up in the family of her grandmother Catherine Skavronskaya. In 1825 the young maid of honor Julia Palen married Count Nikolai Samoilov.

Wikimedia / Karl Bryullov

The count’s mother insisted on marriage, and he was in love with another girl. So the union was unhappy and in 1827 they broke up, and Samoilov returned the dowry to his wife. By the way, Julia’s mother condemned her daughter’s divorce. In addition, there were gossips about the Countess’s romances with Pierre La Ferronne, Attaché Barant and even the estate manager Mishkovsky.

Julia Pavlovna left for Milan, where she quickly became a muse and patron of composers and artists. There she met Karl Bryullov. They traveled together in Italy and visited the excavations of Pompeii. Not surprisingly, the painter painted his beloved four times on a grand canvas.

Wikimedia / Karl Bryullov

The novel of the aristocrat and artist was not overshadowed even by his marriage to the daughter of the mayor of Riga Emilia Timm. However, a month later Brullov demanded a divorce. This story ruined his reputation, although there were rumors that the real reason for the separation was Emilia’s relationship with a close relative. Samoilova sided with her lover.

From time to time Julia returned to Russia, where she received a huge inheritance from her grandmother, but after the death of her husband in 1842 she left Russia forever. The Countess annoyed Emperor Nicholas with his independent temperament. Karl Bryullov left with Julia and lived in her villa in Lombardy.

К.Брюллов. Portrait of Countess Samoilova leaving the ball at the Persian envoy

Samoilova adopted two girls, Giovanna and Amalicia, who can be seen in Karl Bryullov’s painting The Rider. In 1845 Julia divorced Bryullov, and the following year she married a handsome opera singer. Despite the rift, she forever entered the history of painting, giving her face to the inhabitants of ancient Pompeii.

The artist died in 1852, and the elderly Julia after his death remarried the ruined Count Charles de Morne. In her old age, she was almost ruined, and her adopted daughters sued her to get the dowry they had promised.

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