c. 1743. Oil on canvas, 234 x 161 cm. The Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia. Read Note.
Frederick II the Great (1712-1786), Prussian King since 1740, was born in Berlin, the son of Frederick William I and Sophia-Dorothea, daughter of George I of Great Britain.
Pesne painted the portrait in 1739, the 27-year old prince Frederick II is wearing the Order of the Black Eagle, which was founded by his grandfather Frederick I in 1701. The painter foreshortened the prince’s large nose. After Frederick became the king he never sat for the artists and made sure that no portrait of himself was ever in sight at any royal residence.
The second portrait of Frederick II by Pesne, fulfilled for Catherine II, dates to 1743. In the portrait Frederick II holds a field-marshal’s baton and wears the Russian Order of St. Andrew, which he received in 1740. This portrait was probably executed on the basis of the first portrait