From Well-Known Artists to Simple Armenian Villagers.The Portraits of Lavinia Bazhbeuk-Melikyan


Armenian paintress Lavinia Bazhbeuk-Melikyan (1922-2005), daughter of the famous talented representative of ”Tbilisi School”, artist Alexander Bazhbeuk-Melikyan, got her professional education in College of Fine-Arts after Panos Terlemezyan and in the Institute after V. Surikov in Moscow. During her sixty-year creative life Lavinia painted landscapes, Still life, but the most interesting among Lavinia’s works are the portraits, as they show her talent at best. Portrait painting had always attracted the paintress.

Լավինիա Բաժբեուկ-Մելիքյան,  Ինքնադիմանկար, 1978

Lavinia Bazhbeuk-Melikyan,
Self-portrait, 1978

In her works she used to portray those people whom she loved, who impressed her with their peculiar personality, dignity and inner beauty.

      Some artists concentrate on the resemblance of the portrait with the sitter, forgetting about his inner world. While the others create generalized  portrait without paying attention to appearance.  For Lavinia it is basic to retain the resemblance of the portrait with the sitter, conveying all the features in details, thus individualizing the image. She said” If there is no resemblance, then I didn’t like the sitter”. Lavinia views the sitter as a unity of inner and outer qualities. She penetrates into his soul and finds contact with his inside world.  Lavinia used to examine the person she was going to portray in every detail. She fully perceived the sitter’s inside world and succeeded to expose both the inner and outer peculiarities of the very person.

        From canvases painted by Lavinia look at us persons with their natural simple characters, full of sincerity and directions, they attract the looker with their inner harmony[1, p.7]. They seem to easily come into contact with the viewer telling about their life in a silent dialogue. All portraits of Lavinia are full of inner dynamics. There is no idealization in the portraits of Lavinia.

       Being close with the prominent representations of Armenian and Russian artists of her time Lavinia created their portraits. She also painted her family members as well as her own self –portrait.

Լավինիա Բաժբեուկ-Մելիքյան,  Մինաս Ավետիսյանի դիմանկարը,1965

Lavinia Bazhbeuk-Melikyan,
The portrait of Minas Avetisyan,1965

Լավինիա Բաժբեուկ-Մելիքյան,  Մարտիրոս  Սարյանի դիմանկարը,1972

Lavinia Bazhbeuk-Melikyan,
The portrait of Martiros Saryan, 1972

       Lavinia’s professionalism is best seen in the portraits of artists Minas Avetisyan (1965), Ara Shiraz (1970), Martiros Saryan (1972), Robert Elibekyan (1979), the paintress Nana Gyuliqekhvyan(1972) and many others. All these portraits of famous artists convey the inner pride and dignity of person  she painted.  Lavinia could bring out the typical features of these people.In the portraits of her father, brother, sister, husband, daughter and granddaughters    she expressed all her love she had towards them. Amongst the abovementioned canvases stands out her father’s portrait, where the well-known painter despite of his age, looks full of life.

Լավինիա Բաժբեուկ-Մելիքյան,  Հոր`  Ալեքսանդր Բաժբեուկ-Մելիքյանի դիմանկարը, 1960

Lavinia Bazhbeuk-Melikyan,
The portrait of Alexander Bazhbeuk-Melikyan, 1960

Լավինիա Բաժբեուկ-Մելիքյան, Զուլեյկայի դիմանկարը,1971

Lavinia Bazhbeuk-Melikyan,
The portrait of Zuleika,1971

Lavinia made several portraits of her sister Zuleika which look very feminine, graceful and full of tenderness. As compared with the womanly portraits of Zuleika the self –portraits of Lavinia look manly and stern, where she introduces herself as she is-full of energy and resolution, with no idealization.

       Among her works are also significant the portraits of Armenian villagers. She said” I like villagers with their simplicity, directness, liveliness and sunburnt faces. You can’t stay indifferent to such people, and it is happiness to portray them”.

Լավինիա Բաժբեուկ-Մելիքյան,  Տատը թոռան հետ,1968

Lavinia Bazhbeuk-Melikyan,
The grandmother and her grandchild,1968 

Լավինիա Բաժբեուկ-Մելիքյան,  Քուչակ գյուղի ծեր կանայք, 1960

Lavinia Bazhbeuk-Melikyan,
The old women of Quchak, 1960

 In her portraits of Armenian villagers the viewer sees people with sunburnt faces, sweaty foreheads, tough callous working hands and deep, sad Armenian eyes. The village women whom she painted are ordinary and humble with no face powder or lipstick. They are simple and beautiful like the nature itself. The paintress sees their real beauty in their headkerchiefs and shawls. A curious  example is the group portrait named ” The old women of Quchak”.

Լավինիա Բաժբեուկ-Մելիքյան,  Լուսագյուղցի աղջիկը, 1972

Lavinia Bazhbeuk-Melikyan ,
A Girl from Lousagyugh,1972

Here Lavinia expressed her love to people with a subtle and pleasant humor. In this portrait women with faces burnt from severe sun and highland winds look at the viewer with their kind and calm eyes.

         Other portraits of this group are ”The grandmother and her grandchild”, ” The portrait of a Girl from Lousagyugh”, with her innocent and naive face  expression, ” The Blanket sewing woman” with her hand veins moving, ” Lavash baking woman” with a newly baked bread fragrance on her face, and many others.

     Thus, we see that in her portraits Lavinia Bazhbeuk-Melikyan tends to present the sitter in a simple and explicit manner disclosing the peculiar traits of the person’s character.


1. Լավինիա Բաժբեուկ-Մելիքյանի ստեղծագործությունների կատալոգ, Երևան, 1978.

2.Graduation Paper of Silvia Manucharyan.

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