Alexei Alexiwicz Harlamoff was born at Saratov, Russia in 1849. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg and won a gold medal and a travel scholarship in 1868 for his painting The Return of the Prodigal Son. This enabled Harlamoff to go to Paris, where he remained, working with the great portrait painter and teacher at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts Léon Bonnat (1834-1922). Harlamoff work was exhibited in the Russian section of the Décennale exhibition of art produced between 1889 and 1900 which was part of the World’s Fair held in Paris in 1900.
In his early career, Harlamoff painted many military, genre and religious subjects, learning his skills by copying Old Master paintings such as Rembrandt’s Anatomy Lesson in the Mauritshuis in The Hague. He also became a respected portrait painter, with such important sitters as Tsar Alexander II, Prince Demidoff-San Domato and Ivan Tourgueneff. Perhaps Harlamoff’s most beloved subjects were informal portraits of peasant girls. These sitters were painted for their beauty and innocence rather than their fame. Harlamoff eloquently evoked the symbolism of the flower representing the short-lived innocence of youth so popular with artists of the end of the nineteenth century, while capturing a uniquely Russian ambience in the details of dress and facial features.
The work of Alexei Harlamoff is represented in the Alexander III Museum in St Petersburg, the Tretiakov Gallery in Moscow and in the Brobinksi Collection.