The Academy of Arts. 1757-2007. 250th Foundation Anniversary exhibition is dedicated to the jubilee of the Imperial Academy of Arts founded in St Petersburg under the Senate decree of November 6, 1757. Count Ivan Shuvalov, famous patron of art and collector, initiated the foundation of the Academy of Arts; his portrait by A. Losenko is included in the exhibition. It was I. Shuvalov, who donated his wonderful art collection to the Academy in 1758, thus founding the future Academy Museum.
On the 4th of November 1764 Empress Catherine II signed the Decree of foundation of the "Imperial Academy of three most prominent arts painting, sculpture and architecture and the Academy school" in St Petersburg as well as new Academy Regulations.
In March 1763 Ivan Betskoi (1704-1795), associate of Catherine II and secret councilor, headed the Academy. Being interested in the idea of creating "a new sort of people", Betskoi initiated admission of six-year-old boys to the Academy of Arts. The Academy was a closed educational establishment, which "was opened" only during public exhibitions. Thus, as Betskoi conceived, young pupils, protected from daily routine, should become an example of a perfect man, reared on principles of education, reason, and civil valour.
Russian masters gradually replaced foreign professors, engaged by I. Shuvalov. For example, A. Losenko, G. Kozlov, P. Sokolov, G. Ugryumov, A. Ivanov, A. Yegorov, V. Shebuyev, K. Brullov, F. Bruni, and A. Markov would head the class of historic painting. No less famous painters headed the portrait class K. Golovachevsky, D. Levitsky, S. Schukin, and A. Varnek.
The exhibition widely presents Russian historic painting of the 18th first half of the 19th centuries, including Cain the fundamental work by A. Losenko, founder of the Russian academic art school, Testing the Strength of Jan Usmar by G. Ugryumov, Combat of Prince Mstislav Vladimirovich the Varmint with Rededya, Prince of the Kasogis, in 1022 by A. Ivanov, Torture of the Saviour by A. Yegorov, The Last Day of Pompeii by K. Brullov and Narcissus, his earlier work, The Death of Camellia, Sister of Horace and The Brazen Serpent by F. Bruni. The majority of these works are included in the permanent exposition of the Museum.
The exhibition presents portraits of the best artists and teachers of the so-called "Hall of Council" of the St Petersburg Imperial Academy of Arts. Among them there are portraits of A. Kokorinov, builder of the Academy, rector of architecture, by D. Levitsky, of historic painters G. Kozlov and V. Shebuyev by L. Miropolsky and F. Slavyansky, animal painter G. Grot and portrait painter D. Levitsky by Y. Kamezhenkov and I. Yakovlev, sculptors I. Martos and F. Tolstoy by D. Antonelli.
For the first time the exhibition presents life studies by the pupils of the Academy carried out in the drawing class for the so-called term examinations, held once in four months. Among them there are works by A. Losenko, P. Sokolov, K. Brullov, A. Ivanov, O. Kiprensky and others.
Drawings of models are vivid examples of the professional development of famous artists, who studied at the Academy. The Russian Museum possesses the unique and the rich collection of such drawings. Many of them have marks and stamps, which testify to the medal awards.
The exposition also includes works by the students of the engraving and medal classes, architectural fantasies and schemes.
Almost all works were received by the Russian Museum from the Academy of Arts in 1923.