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Entries / St. Petersburg in the Fine Arts (entry)

St. Petersburg in the Fine Arts (entry)

Categories / Art/Fine Arts

ST. PETERSBURG IN THE FINE ARTS. Artists started to make representations of St. Petersburg soon after the city's founding. Alexey Zubov was the first to create the panoramic view of St. Petersburg (1716) which combined topographic accuracy with Baroque spirit and reality with idealism. In the middle of 1720s, Christophor Marselius and Ottomar Elliger had by far more transparent views of cityscapes. Drawings by Fedor Vasilyev are remarkable for their realism (SS Simon&Anna Church, 1719). The most complete picture of St. Petersburg of the mid-18th century was done by Mikhail Makhaev in his album of etchings, which was also reproduced in paintings. Makhaev represents the city of Rastrelli with splendid mansions, the expanse of the Neva and fine shades of colour and light. Although architecture was the main subject matter, the pictures present a lot of every day details. From the late18th century, an integral and poetic view of the city replaces portraits of buildings (landscapes by Semen Shchedrin, Benjamin Patersen and Fedor Alexeev). Painters provide an artistic and emotional image of St. Petersburg; live genre scenes replace staffage. Series of lithographic views appeared in the early 19th century, the most notable of them is The Collection of Views of St. Petersburg and its Surroundings (1821-26) by Maxim Vorobyev, Stepan Galaktionov, Karl Bryullov, et al, and lists by Evgraf Martynov, Ivan and Peter Ivanov. The Panorama of Nevsky Prospect by Vasily Sadovnikov, published in 1830-35, combines architectural accuracy with details of real modern life which play an almost equal role as the architectural landscape. Vasily Sadovnikov, Iosif Charlemagne and Ludwig Premazzi represented gala Petersburg in watercolours. The everyday city is presented by F. Bragantz in the same medium. John Atkinson (1800-05), Angelo Tozelli (1817-20) and Giuseppe Bernardazzi (1850) continued the tradition of overview panoramas. Vorobyev started to depict the city in a particularly realistic manner (The Tip of Vasilyevsky Island, 1830s). This emotional and individual style was long dominating St. Petersburg iconography. The most interesting paintings in this respect are by Pavel Fedotov (A Winter Day, 1840s), Fedor Vasilyev (The Daybreak in St. Petersburg, 1869-71), Vasily Surikov (The Senate Square in Winter Night, 1871) and Alexander Beggrow (A View of the Neva, 1881). In 1890s, however, St. Petersburg almost disappeared from painting, as the city had become the symbol of official bureaucracy. Artists of the World of Art managed to break this bias down and praise the beauty of classical Petersburg, but they also contributed tragic, grotesque and symbolic elements, which is specifically characteristic of Mstislav Dobuzhinsky. The originality of St. Petersburg of the18th century was reflected by Alexander Benois and Evgeny Lansere who created the retrospective style of the city's pictures, which, however, had no further development. Anna Ostroumova-Lebedeva preferred to present classic St. Petersburg in her xylographs and watercolours showing the eternal and timeless city. The same trend prevails in Pavel Shillingovsky's album Petersburg. Ruins and Revival (1923) which together with Dobuzhinsky's Petersburg in 1921 became a kind of requiem to the former imperial capital. Most attempts to create a new revolutionary image of Petrograd - Leningrad failed, though they were taken by such prominent artists as Boris Kustodiev, Dmitry Mitrokhin, Anna Ostroumova-Lebedeva, and Vladimir Konashevich. The return to classical cityscapes in Fauvist landscapes by Osmerkin and impressionist pictures of Nikolay Lapshin and Alexander Grinberg was much more successful, but their works do not reflect the hardships of the 1930s (except for the views of the outskirts by Boris Ermolaev). Tragic everyday life is fully depicted in blockade etchings of eyewitnesses Alexey Pakhomov and Solomon Yudovin. After the war, the classic tradition was continued and enriched with a lyrical touch (Alexander Vedernikov, Alexander Zaytsev and Leonid Khizhinsky), but metaphysical (Yakov Krestovsky and Dzovinar Bekaryan) and surrealistic (Vilner) arose in 1970s. Artists were looking for unknown spots of the city and unusual perspectives (Yury Tulin and M.A. Kanaev). Etchers Andrey Ushin and Oleg Pochtenny celebrated social and revolutionary Leningrad. From 1970s, official optimism and professional patterns were resisted by informal artists with their tragic mood and expressive artistic manner. They treated the city as a subjective reflection of their own personality.

References: Город глазами художников: Петербург - Петроград - Ленинград в произведениях живописи и графики. Л., 1978; Петербург - Петроград - Ленинград в произведениях русских и советских художников: Кат. выст. Л., 1980; Каганов Г. З. Санкт-Петербург: Образы пространства. М., 1995; Санкт-Петербург: Портрет города и горожан. СПб., 2003.

V. V. Antonov.

Alexeev Fedor Yakovlevich
Atkinson John August
Baganz Fedor Fedorovich
Beggrow Alexander Carlovich
Bekaryan Dzovinar Arovna
Benois Alexander Nikolaevich
Bernardazzi Giuseppe-Raimondo
Bryullov Karl Pavlovich
Charlemagne Iosif Iosifovich
Dobuzhinsky Mstislav Valerianovich
Elliger Ottomar
Ermolaev Boris Nikolaevich
Fedotov Pavel Andreevich
Galaktionov Stepan Filippovich
Ivanov Ilya Stepanovich
Ivanov Peter S.
Kanaev М.А.
Khizhinsky Leonid Semenovich
Konashevich Vladimir Mikhailovich
Krestovsky Yakov Igorevich
Kustodiev Boris Mikhailovich
Lansere Evgeny Evgenievich
Lansere Evgeny Evgenievich (Jr.)
Lapshin Nikolay Fedorovich
Makhaev Mikhail Ivanovich
Marselius Christophor
Martynov Alexander Evstafievich
Mitrokhin Dmitry Isidorovich
Osmerkin Alexander Alexandrovich
Ostroumova-Lebedeva Anna Peterovna
Pakhomov Alexey Fedorovich
Patersen Benjamin
Pochtenny Oleg Alexeevich
Premazzi Ludwig Osipovich
Rastrelli Bartolomeo Carlo de
Sadovnikov Vasily Semenovich
Shchedrin Semen Fedorovich
Shillingovsky Pavel Alexandrovich
Surikov Vasily Ivanovich
Tozelli Angelo
Tulin Yury Nilovich
Ushin Andrey Alexandrovich
Vasilyev Fedor Alexandrovich
Vedernikov Alexander Semenovich
Vorobyev Maxim Nikiforovich
Yudovin Solomon Borisovich
Zaytsev Alexander Dmitrievich
Zubov Alexey Fedorovich

Каганов Г. З. Санкт-Петербург: Образы пространства. М., 1995
Город глазами художников: Петербург - Петроград - Ленинград в произведениях живописи и графики. Л., 1978
Санкт-Петербург: Портрет города и горожан. СПб., 2003
Петербург - Петроград - Ленинград в проиведениях русских и советских художников: Кат. выст. Л., 1980

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