The collection on the second floor, called the “Academic Museum”, presents paintings from the Museum’s historical collection, the works of those famous artists whose paintings served as models for studying and copying many generations of Russian young men. This was the principle of the exhibition of the Museum of the Imperial Academy of arts until 1917: on the 2nd floor in the halls , there was an Art gallery and sculpture was exhibited, in addition to the best “programs” of national artists (paintings on given subjects, for which the authors received gold medals, the title of artist, academician and Professor),
The modern exposition of the 2nd floor opens with works related to the beginning of the existence of the Academy of three most notable arts. The earliest extant portrait class program, called “architectural Artist engaged in drawing plans and facades” in 1807, entered the Museum as a supposed portrait of the architect J. B. Valen Delamotte. A French architect, invited from France by I. Shuvalov, completed the design of the Academy of arts building, as well as decorated the young capital with a number of other buildings.
In the painting “inauguration of the Academy of arts on July 7, 1765” By V. I. Jacobi, we are already facing a different era. In 1763, Catherine II ascended the Russian throne. It was under this Empress that the Academy of arts, which had previously been a branch of the Moscow University, acquired its Charter, staff, and privilege. This happened on November 4, 1764. In the same year, construction of the stone building of the Academy began. It lasted intermittently until 1788. The inauguration was held in a wooden building. In 1763, the curator of the Academy, I. I. Shuvalov, was forced to retire from the court abroad. However, his ideas for establishing the Academy formed the basis of the regulations drawn up by the new President I. I. Betsky. The practice of admitting noble and rich people to the academic class, which began under Shuvalov, was also continued. According to tradition, each honorary Amateur or honorary member sent a portrait for the Council Chamber. This is how the image of count Pyotr Borisovich Sheremetev appeared, made by his serf artist I. p. Argunov. General-anshef, Moscow provincial leader of the nobility count Sheremetev, following the fashion introduced in Russia by Catherine II, began to collect art collections and was elected an honorary Amateur in 1766. Among the images originating from the Council Hall, the most interesting are portraits of Prince Alexander Nikolaevich Golitsyn by A. G. Varnek, a favorite of Catherine II Platon Zubov by I. B. Lampi the Elder, and a portrait of the diplomat and Director of the Academy, elected its honorary member Baron P. F. Maltitz, an unknown artist of the XVIII century.
The first copies made by Russian artists abroad were “Justice” by A. p. Losenko from a fragment of the painting in the Stanza of Constantine in the Vatican Palace and “the Abduction of Europe” by G. I. Ugryumov. Both painter perfected in Italy, attended classes at the academies of fine arts, he took lessons from famous teachers and sent a copy to a report on the progress made. It is significant that the originals for copying they chose in the first case the work of the school of Raphael, in the second – Veronese. Catherine II paid great attention to the Academy, often coming to exams and exhibitions accompanied by a retinue of courtiers. It is to this Empress that we owe the appearance of a beautiful collection of works of art in the Hermitage. Many of the paintings purchased abroad by her order later entered the collection of the Academy. The portrait of the Austrian Empress Maria Theresa by Peter Johann Kobler, presented to the Russian Empress Elizabeth Petrovna, an ally in the seven Years ‘ war, was transferred to the Academy by order of Catherine the great. Attention is also drawn to another ceremonial portrait — count V. V. Fermor, a member of the seven Years ‘ war. Written by A. p. Antropov in 1765, it conveys the image of a military and statesman who, since 1742, headed the Office from buildings. At his time, according to the plan of F.-B. Rastrelli, the Smolny monastery ensemble was built, the design model of which, carved from wood, can be admired in the exhibition of the architecture Department on the 3rd floor. The count is depicted in full vestments of the knight of the order of St. Andrew.
They were proud of the Academy and brought honorary foreign guests. In 1774, St.-Petersburg was visited by don Juan de Braganza, the Duke of Lafoes, the Portuguese crown Prince. He was accepted as an honorary art lover. Subsequently, in his homeland, the Prince headed the Academy of Sciences and arts founded by him. In 1780, the Prussian Prince Friedrich Wilhelm, who became king eight years later, got acquainted with the structure of the Academy. A place of honor in the exhibition hall, where the “Perseus and Andromeda” of the German classicist theorist A. R. is located. Mengs, dedicated to the portrait of cardinal Alessandro Albani, a recognized connoisseur of art, who collected a collection of antique works in his Palace. At the request of I. I. Shuvalov, the cardinal helped many Russian artists who were sent to Rome by the Academy for further training.
“The beating of babies” by the Venetian Andrea Celesti is the only painting left from the collection of Shuvalov, which he gave to the Academy in 1758. Among the works received in the first years of the academic collection were four paintings, two of which are presented in the exhibition. In 1765, Luca Giordano’s “Bathsheba” and a small painting by Antoine Watteau “Walking in the Park” (the authorship of the latter is not confirmed) were received from Oranienbaum by the Highest order. Already at the beginning of the XIX century, old catalogues mention the painting “Minerva beats the giants” by Luca Giordano — a very typical example of the work of the Neapolitan master, a student of A. Giordano and X. Ribera. It is known about the painting that it served as a ceiling lamp in the hall of Russian sculpture for a long time.
The real decoration of the collection is two large-scale paintings by the famous Angelica Kaufman “Achilles Recognized” and “the Sleeping baby Servius Tullius”. Kaufmann, who knew Winckelmann intimately and followed his principles, and was friends with Goethe, was a court artist at the Neapolitan Royal court and lived an interesting and eventful life. Both paintings were painted in Rome by order of Catherine II and are characteristic of the Mature period of the famous master’s work. The name of the Russian Empress is also associated with the appearance in St. Petersburg of works from the collection of Lord R. Walpole, who was in the English castle of Houghton Hall. The paintings of Pietro Francesco Mola “Curtius throws himself into the abyss” and ” Horace Cocles defending the bridge of Sublicia “are based on subjects from the” History of Rome “by Titus Livy, as well as the canvas of the Venetian painter Gregorio Lazzarini”Sophonisba takes poison”. Earlier, the academic collection contained another sample of Lazzarini’s work.
In 1863, count N. A. Kushelev-Bezborodko bequeathed an extensive collection of paintings and sculptures to the Imperial Academy of arts. In addition to the paintings of the “old masters”, inherited from his ancestors, it included works by artists of the Barbizon school, bought by Nikolai Alexandrovich in France. This part of the collection, which was written about with enthusiasm by I. Repin, V. Perov, M. Nesterov, K. Korovin, and A. Benois, was the most significant for Russian painters who studied the secrets of plein-air painting in the Kushel gallery. The updated exhibition presents the few remaining paintings in the Museum. This is a painting by F. Carracci “the Unbelief of Thomas” (a copy from the canvas of Guercino),” the Battlefield ” by G. F. Rugendas, a still life by D. Segers and a beautiful female portrait of an unknown Dutch artist of the XVII century, as well as “Crucifixion” by an unknown Italian master of the XVII century. The largest and most valuable part of this collection was added to the Hermitage’s exposition and funds in 1918.
One of the pearls of the Museum’s collection is the painting “Lot with daughters”by the 17th-century Dutch painter R. J. van Blomendal. This is the third world-famous signature work by the artist from Haarlem.
The three following halls feature the best works of Russian artists of the XVIII-early XX century-educational works by A. A. Ivanov and I. E. Repin, A. I. Savinov and I. G. Myasoedov; final paintings by V. D. Polenov and N. I. Feshin; works of the Mature period of creativity by K. p. Bryullov, I. I. Shishkin, A. E. Arkhipov and other outstanding painters show the evolution of the art school. Among them are programs for which the authors were awarded the titles of artist, academician and Professor.
The masterpieces of the collection are “the Resurrection of the daughter of Jairus” by V. D. Polenov (1871) and “kapustnitsa” by N. I. Feshin (1909). The painting “Staging of nature in the Studio of Ilya Repin at the Academy of arts”, written by Ilya Efimovich’s students in the period from 1899 to 1903, is also unique. The picture was painted according to a sketch by B. M. Kustodiev by students of the Higher art school at the Imperial Academy of arts. Among the depicted are Repin himself, F. A. Malyavin, A. A. Murashko, I. S. Kulikov, I. Ya Bilibin, A. p. Ostroumova, who determined the further development of Russian art.
In April 1918 The Imperial Academy of arts as a state institution was abolished. Instead of the Higher art school, a Free art school was first opened, and in August of the same year — the Petrograd state free art training workshops (PGSHUM). They taught artists of both the ” right “(A. A. Rylov, A. I. Savinov, A. T. Matveev, L. V. Sherwood) and the” left ” direction-A. A. Andreev, N. I. Altman, M. V. Matyushin, V. E. Tatlin. The latter were staunch supporters of the search for new forms in art. In 1921 workshops are renamed the Academy of arts, and its Charter and curriculum are approved. In 1922, the Academy of arts and the former school of technical drawing of Baron A. Stieglitz merged. The United educational institution became known as Petrograd VKhUTEMAS. In addition to the rector V. L. Simonov, the Board includes K. S. Petrov-Vodkin, S. S. Serafimov, V. A. Denisov, and A. E. Karev.
This is not the end of the series of renaming and the struggle of ideas. The short period of returning to the study of the artistic heritage of the past, which occurred in 1925-1929 and was associated with the name of the rector E. E. Essen, ended with the victory of the Proletkult. The new Director, F. A. Maslov, became the rector of the Leningrad higher art and technical Institute – this is how the new name of the Academy sounded. In accordance with the directives given to him, F. A. Maslov began to rebuild the Institute in the direction of industrial and technical education.