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   During the second half of the XVIII century the quality of everyday life of the noblemen in the cities and in the manor estates matches gradually, at the same time the social-psychological roles of the city and the estate drift apart. The city was representing nation and state while the estate's role was still to be the family "nest" and a shelter. The idea of the estate as a family "nest", the very existence of which filled the life of a noble with a special flavour, gains its firm position in the mentality of the Russian nobles.
   Wherever a noble son might have spend his time - within the walls of his family estate or in thousand miles from it - nevertheless the very existence of the estate provided the guarantee of the stability of the life-style. This was true not only about the family tradition but about the ideas of the social order as well. The estate was in a way a micro-world reflecting the structure of the Russian State. The social hierarchy was built up like follows: the Emperor - his servants-nobles - people. The estate's hierarchy recreated the same scheme at another level: landowner - his home-servants - serfs.
    The estate was a point where two life-paths of a nobleman crossed - traditional family life and his social/hierarchic statute. Self-recognition of a noble developed within the estate, where the portrait gallery played somehow the role of the visual material.
   Who are the authors of the paintings that used to decorate the walls of the manor houses? Sometimes it could be an artist ("isopisets") from the nearest district centre, sometimes - "pitershchik" - an experienced artist who used to work in the capital cities, sometimes - it could be a serf or even a landowner (barin) himself, for whom painting was a hobby. The portrait-painters working at the estates tended to emphasise the common features of the noble-class or a family but not the peculiar personal characteristics of their sitters. Their canvases might not be always professionally executed but still they convey the images of an average man of a certain time as seen by an average contemporary. They all demonstrate the love of unhurried, sophisticated, thorough work. This art is based on the common idea of dignity and virtue, corporate feeling and common moral principles shared by the sitters.