|thanks wikipaintings.org (public domain)|
You can tell by the look on her face that "Obolenskaya N.A." (the only title I can find for this portrait) also thinks her pal is delightful. This work is by the Russian Romantic artist Vasily Tropinin, who painted over 3000 portraits in his long lifetime. By the time this pair sat to him in 1833 he knew just what his clients wanted, and was probably still more than happy to provide it. You see, he was born a serf, the property of a Count in Novgorod, who allowed him to study at the Imperial Academy of the Arts. Tropinin wasn't given his freedom until 1823. Imagine becoming your own man at age 47 - well, I would think 10 years later you'd still be very happy indeed to do what you do best on your own terms. And that includes painting a goofy mutt that's all topknot and mustache.