Winberg, Ivan - portrait of Tsar Alexander II

Two assassinations - Alexander II and Abraham Lincoln
Two great reformers were assassinated in the 19C. They are depicted here, Tsar Alexander II and President Abraham Lincoln, in a dual portrait prepared for an exhibition in Moscow in February 2011.

Also showing is an important miniature portrait recently acquired for this Artists and Ancestors collection. It is by Ivan Winberg, a Swedish miniaturist who worked in Russia c1825-1845. It is quite large at 116mm x 83mm, with other royal portraits by Winberg being of similar size.

When the miniature was purchased it was described as being of Tsar Nicholas I (1796-1855), but from a comparison with the images of Nicholas I and Alexander II here and below, the sitter appears in fact to be Tsar Alexander II (1818-1881). A kind researcher from the Hermitage Museum advises that the portrait seems to date from around 1840.

Christie's -Winberg, Nicholas I
Winberg, Nicholas I

Christie's - Winberg, Alexander II
Theer - Alexander II 1839
Lavrov - Alexander II

It is a little hard to tell with the small images here, of which larger versions were sent to me by a kind visitor from Russia (left click on them for larger versions), but close inspection shows that the Winberg miniature portrait depicts Alexander II in the same pose and wearing the same decorations as in the left-hand portrait. In the centre portrait, a blue sash has been added to the same medals, and in the right-hand portrait, he has additional medals. It therefore seems likely that the left-hand portrait and the Winberg miniature were painted around 1840, with the centre one painted immediately after his 1855 accession, and the right-hand one a little later in 1855, after his Order of St George had been raised from Fourth Class to First Class with a white cross.

Alexander II demonstrated his bravery when he served in the Caucasian army and helped to repulse an attack by wild tribesmen. He was awarded the Order of St. George (fourth class) for his heroism. It can be seen as the left most decoration in the Winberg miniature. Established in the Russian Empire in 1807, it was granted to non-commissioned officers, soldiers and sailors for their military heroism. After Alexander II's accession, in 1856 it was split into four degrees. On 26 November, 1869 Alexander became one of only 25 people to ever be awarded the First Degree of a white enamelled cross pattée with a central disc bearing the image of St. George on horseback slaying the dragon. The change to a white cross can be seen in the right-hand portrait and also in the Lavrov portrait, showing that was also painted after 1869.

Below are miniatures in this collection of his grandfather, Alexander I (1777-1825) see View , his father Nicholas I (1796-1855) see View , and grandson, Nicholas II (1868-1918). Missing is his son, Alexander III (1859-1894).

Ivan Winberg (died in 1851 in St. Petersburg) was a well-known Russian miniaturist of Swedish origin. He was a son of Swedish goldsmith Andreas Winberg, who was working in St. Petersburg in 1791-1816. From the early 1820s he studied at St. Petersburg Imperial Academy; in 1830 he received the title of "naznacheny" (appointed) artist and, in 1846 - titles of professor and academician (Member of the Academy) of miniature painting. He regularly exhibited his miniatures at annual academic exhibitions (1824, 1833, 1836, etc.). Among his works were miniature portraits (on ivory) of Alexander I, Nikolai I, Prince Kochubei, Count Sukhtelen, Empress Alexandra Fedorovna, Alexander II (as Grandduke), etc. These (as well as many other works of Ivan Winberg) portraits can be viewed in most esteemed museums of Russia: Tretyakov Gallery, Russian Museum, Hermitage, etc.

There is another miniature portrait by Ivan Winberg in this collection. It is this portrait of an aristocratic Russian lady who is wearing a miniature portrait of an army officer on her wrist. 953

For more details of it, see View

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