The ten-year-old girl depicted in this portrait is the daughter of the brave Scottish nobleman V. V. Fermor, who spent most of his life in the Russian military service. From 1742 to 1757 he headed the Office of the buildings, where Ivan Yakovlevich Vishnyakov as an experienced and skilful master led a picturesque team.
The portrait was commissioned by the artist in 1749. According to the customs of the time, Sarah Fermor is portrayed as an adult girl: with powdered and curled hair, in a decollete ball gown, with a fan in her hand. Stiffness of the body, disproportionately elongated lily hands, giving the portrait the exquisite beauty of flowing lines, graceful gestures, decorative interpretation of an asymmetric landscape with two thin trees – everything sets the viewer to a high poetical mode, releases from the close framework of material a light spiritual origin.
Not by age, the serious, sad, thoughtful face of a ten-year-old girl, her slim neck is depicted with great lyricism, unique purity and fascination. Coloring clothes serves as an additional chord to her vulnerable inner world.
This exquisite gray-greenish-blue dress color, like the girl’s face, captivates with beauty and expressiveness. Her complex pose, given in light, contradictory movements, is sustained in the spirit of the rococo style that dominated the Elizabethan court and extolled the intricate elegance, a somewhat mannered refinement, a changeable mood of feelings.
However, at the same time, the portrait is dominated by a penetrating silence and fascination, incompatible with the usual ideas about the fateful style. Often these qualities are explained by the inability of the artist to convey the movement and its internal connection with the art of the parsuna, which seems unconvincing, since according to the technique of writing and the approach to the model, Vishnyakov has nothing in common with the parsun. But nevertheless, it is the peculiarities of the artist’s national worldview that the painting owes its unique charm.