Русский    Finnish    German   Home e-mail
Russian museum

Virtual Tours round the Russian Museum

The Mikhailovsky Palace

The Russian Museum » The Mikhailovsky Palace » Room 14

Room 14

Romanticism, born in Russia at the start of the nineteenth century, thus underwent a number of changes, enjoying a relatively long life and combining with other trends and movements. Official portraits came back into fashion in the 1820s. And the king of this genre in the Russian art of the first half of the nineteenth century was without a doubt Karl Brullov (1799–1852). Karl Brullov’s creative heritage contains a considerable number of striking portraits. One of his masterpieces is his unfinished picture of Yulia Samoilova retiring from a ball. It is more than just an official portrait; it is a pictorial symbol, a personification of the masquerade of life, where reality is often hidden from the outside eye.

Karl Brullov, while famed as a portraitist and author of murals for several large cathedrals and churches, is best known in Russia as a history painter. In 1823, Brullov travelled to Italy and set about seeking a theme for a history canvas. The subject of The Last Day of Pompeii — the most important work not only in Brullov’s creativity, but in the whole history of Russian painting — was suggested to him by his elder brother Alexander, an architect who had made sketches of excavations in Pompeii. Brullov spent more than five years working on his masterpiece, painting numerous sketches and several modelli. The Last Day of Pompeii is one of a rare number of completed Russian Romantic projects on an historical subject. Brullov gave bright pictorial form to the theme of tragedy so beloved of the Romantic artists. The main thematic line of the work is the reactions and emotions of the inhabitants of Pompeii at the fateful moment. Resolving it in a major emotional and colourist key, Brullov lends the tragedy a sublime ring.

Hovhannes Aivazovsky (1817–1900) painted a multitude of pictures of the sea — the fruit of his fantasy and imagination, based on personal observations. The collection of the Russian Museum contains some forty canvases by Aivazovsky, from various periods of his life. The Ninth Wave (1850) is one of Aivazovsky’s best pictures and incarnates the Romantic concepts of tragedy, drama and eternal hope in man’s victory over the elements.

The Project “The Russian Museum: the Virtual Branch”
go top