Lot No. 205 (90th Auction)
Signed "Eriksen", 128 x 89 mm, circa 1762

A very fine and rare miniature on ivory "Catherine the Great in Uniform on Horseback"
Watercolour on ivory, under glass and in a frame decorated with tortoiseshell and gold and mother-of-pearl inlay. Portrait of the young Grand Duchess Catherine on horseback: she sits proudly on a brocade saddle upon a white horse. She turns to the right; her hair is loosely gathered at the nape of her neck and she wears a tricorn hat and a red officer’s uniform with a green sash. She holds a raised sword in her hand. In the background is a hilly landscape with shrubs and trees. In the lower right corner is the signature "Eriksen".

The original portrait by Eriksen was painted in 1762 and shows Catherine the Great on her horse Brilliante before the monastery of St. Sergej. Next to her stands vice chancellor Prince Golitsyn holding the documents of her accession. Princess Dashkova recalls in her memoirs how the empress borrowed a uniform of the Preobrazhensky Regiment from Captain Talyzin. A larger version of this portrait is in the Russian Museum in Leningrad.

As with most of Catherine’s manoeuvers, the portrait performs multiple functions: it establishes her as a commanding figure worthy of the crown, indicates her planned style of rule, signals her support for the military, and distances her from the disastrous policies of Peter III—all while hinting at her intent to lead Russia by the principles of Enlightenment.

Catherine the Great (1729-1796)
Catherine II, also known as Catherine the Great, was the most renowned and the longest-ruling female leader of Russia, reigning from 9 July 1762 until her death in 1796 at the age of 67. Her reign was called Russia's golden age. She was born in Stettin, Pomerania, Prussia as Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg, and came to power following a coup d'état and the assassination of her husband, Peter III, at the end of the Seven Years' War. Russia was revitalized under her reign, growing larger and stronger than ever and becoming recognized as one of the great powers of Europe.
Source:, as of 10/09/2014.

Vigilius Eriksen (1722-1782)
He initially studied under Johann Salomon Wahl. In 1755 he was awarded a gold medal in painting at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, but was denied entry into the institution. He quickly developed a reputation for his portraits, and between 1757 and 1772 he traveled and worked in Saint Petersburg where he became the imperial court painter. He painted several portraits of Catherine the Great, as well as other royals. After a number of lucrative commissions, Eriksen returned to Denmark to continue his work as a royal portraitist. He was now some years busy, painting several times Dowager Queen Juliana Maria and Prince Frederick. Also a series of miniature enamel paintings that included ones of Frederick V as well as Catherine the Great.
Eriksen was recognized as a considerable portrait painter during his time. What is especially cherished about him was his excellent reproduction of his subjects.
Source:, as of 10/09/2014.
Estimate  16,000 - 25,000 €

Price Realised  20,500 €
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