Losenko, Anton Pavlovich
Born July 30 (Aug. 10), 1737, in Glukhov, in present-day Sumy Oblast, in the Ukrainian SSR; died Nov. 23 (Dec. 4), 1773, in St. Petersburg. Russian historical painter, portraitist, and graphic artist.
Beginning in 1744, Losenko lived in St. Petersburg, where he studied at the studio of I. P. Argunov (1753-58) and at the Academy of Arts (1758-60). He received a stipend from the academy to continue his training in Paris (1760-65) and Rome (1766-69). Losenko’s works of the 1760’s reveal a careful study of the human body and of antique art (The Marvelous Fish Catch, 1762; Abraham’s Sacrifice, 1765; Cain, 1768; Zeus and Thetis 1769—all in the Russian Museum, Leningrad).
Retaining such late baroque traditions as fervent images and dynamic composition, he gradually drew close to the cerebral clarity of classicism. In Losenko’s main work, Vladimir Before Rogneda, which is devoted to an episode from ancient Russian history, a conventional academic approach is combined with excessively rhetorical gestures in an effort to portray natural emotions and reveal a complex ethical conflict. The unfinished picture Hector’s Parting With Andromache (1773, Tret’iakov Gallery), which is carefully composed yet somewhat overburdened, uses lofty images to convey the idea of patriotic duty.
Losenko’s portraits of P. I. Shuvlov (1760, Russian Museum) and F. G. Volkov (1763, Russian Museum; a second version in the Tret’iakov Gallery) are particularly lifelike. The artist’s many drawings are noted for a precise modeling of form and the fineness of technique. In 1770, Losenko became a professor at the Academy of Arts. He served as its director in 1772 and 1773. He wrote a textbook for the academy, A Short Explanation of Human Proportions (1772). Losenko influenced the work of several artists, including I. A. Akimov, P. I. Sokolov, and G. I. Ugriumov.