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Russian Academy Of Fine Arts Museum (Saint Petersburg)

17 Universitetskaya Embankment, Saint Petersburg (tel.: +7 812 323-64-96, +7 812 323-35-78), Metro station: "Vasileostrovskaya".


The building of the Academy of Arts (the Academy, for short) was constructed in 1764 to 1788 to a design by Jean-Baptiste Vallin de la Mothe (also involving Aleksandr Kokorinov). Three wooden houses having various owners were situated in this section of the Vasilievsky Island, between the 3rd Liniya Street and 4th Liniya Street. In 1759, by order of Empress Elisabeth one of these buildings (the Golovkin House), at the intersection of the embankment and 3rd Liniya Street, was handed over to the Academy. A little bit later this educational institution received the neighbouring Vratislavsky House. Finally, in 1763, the institution also received the building that had originally been occupied by a sea pharmacy (the intersection of the embankment and 4th Liniya Street). On 7th July 1765, a projected stone building was inaugurated and a church building was consecrated. This ceremony still took place in the complex of the old, wooden buildings united by a common facade only. The construction works started from the northern block, followed by works on the rooms around the "circle", the internal concentric block of the Academy's building. The main (southern) facade was constructed last. In 1771, due to lack of funding, the works were suspended. The designers of the building did not live to see their design implemented. Georg Veldten (assisted by Yegor Sokolov) became the new general manager of the construction works. In 1778 and 1779, the remaining wooden structures on the Neva embankment were demolished, and the works on the main facade, which lasted for almost 10 years, started.

The original design by Vallin de la Moth and Kokorinov is reflected, apart from the exterior of the building, in the lower and upper foyer as well as in the central room of the state enfilade.

During the times of the Boarding School at the Imperial Academy of Arts students lived in the second floor of the main building: their bedrooms occupied the rooms around the "circle." The apartments of professors and mentors (as well as various utility rooms) occupied the ground floor. The first floor, which was considered the main one, was allocated for the lecture halls, classrooms as well as the art collections. The painting classrooms occupied the whole eastern block and a half of the northern block. The paint-grinding room and the engraving class were placed in the block in the 4th Liniya Street, next to the life classroom, which was situated in the north-western risalit. The drawing classrooms occupied the northern block. The western pavilion of the southern block was occupied by the library. A neighbouring double-height room (at present called the Titian Room) was used as a conference room: it hosted meetings of the Council and General Assembly of the Imperial Academy of Arts. Another double-height room was called the Antique Gallery; it contained copies of Ancient Greek and Roman plastic-art works; the rooms along both of the Galleries were used to keep sculptures. There were paintings from the Academy's holdings hanging in the eastern pavilion, which, like the western one, had two storeys. Later, some rooms were rebuilt and changed their function.

In the mid-19th century, the second floor around the "circle" was handed over to the architecture class; that floor contained the workshops where graduates worked on their diploma pieces.

In 1818 and 1819, the Cast-Iron Staircase between the first and second floors was built to a design of A. Mikhailov; it served as an entrance to the Boarding School. It was decorated by famous Russian painters and sculptors: Andrey Ivanov, Vasily Shebuyev, Aleksey Yegorov, Stepan Pimenov, Ivan Martos, Vasily Demut-Malinovsky, and Ivan Prokofyev.

A young architect, Konstantin Thon, was assigned with important construction works. In the early 1830s, the western and eastern pavilions of the state enfilade were rebuilt to his design. Some modifications were done to the decorations and use of other rooms along the Neva facade. For example, the library was transferred from the western pavilion, which assumed the function of the conference room, to the eastern pavilion, where Professor Pyotr Basin painted the dome with images of muses. The double-height galleries were named the First and Second Antique Galleries and were used as a museum of ancient sculpture. Besides that, the Church of St. Catherine was completed and covered with a dome to a design of Andrey Thon. It was decorated with sculptures by Demut-Malinovsky, Samuil Galberg and other outstanding masters as well as with paintings by Basin and Shebuyev.

In 1860s, the architect David Grimm completed a project that changed the use of two educational lecture halls in the first floor in the 3rd Liniya Street: they were occupied by reading rooms of the library. The Pimenov Room (the eastern pavilion of the state enfilade) became a book depository, after repair works to a design of Fyodor Eppinger.

Another enfilade stretched in the eastern block from the Pimenov Room along the 3rd Liniya Street. In late 19th and early 20th centuries, it was occupied by the office of the museum's curator and two rooms of the Kushelev Gallery (in 1907, as a logical continuation, a neighbouring room was occupied by another private collection donated to the Academy). The Blue Room connected the unique Kushelev Gallery with the area of the main academic museum. This memorial room was set up in 1909 after the death of Grand Duke Vladimir Aleksandrovich, the president, by his wife in a room of the 3rd Liniya Street enfilade, the one adjacent to the library on one side and to the Kushelev Gallery on the other side. Decorated to a design of Vladimir Shchuko and painted by Eugene Lanceret, it was always open to the public. Book cabinets, which were made in accordance with sketches by Shchuko, held the editions donated to the library by the grand duke. An easel held a portrait of the grand duke by Ilya Repin. At the present time, all these rooms of the eastern block are occupied by the Scientific Library at the Academy, which is an independent scientific institution.

Before the 1917 Russian Revolution, not only the largest part of the present-day area of the academic library belonged to the museum, but in 1908 it received the whole left section of the ground floor, from the main entrance to the corner of the 4th Liniya Street (i. e., from the Salon and including the cabinet of arts). This happened after the former professor apartments had been significantly rebuilt. Apart from being used as storage rooms for paintings (including the Shuvalov's collection), these rooms were used for exhibitions.

The Academy occupied the quarter from the Neva embankment to Bolshoy Avenue almost entirely. The lot was developed only gradually. The Metal Casting House (constructed to a design by Andreyan Zakharov, 1805) in the 4th Liniya Street was one of the first structures. It was in this house where statues were cast in the 1860s for the capital and its suburbs.

Like the Metal Casting House, a new block was also erected in the same Classical style in 1819 to 1821 to the design by A. A. Mikhailov, opposite the main building, in the garden of the Academy. The president Aleksey Olenin intended to use the new block as a zoography classroom. Besides that, it was going to be allocated for a laundry room and a bathhouse. The 1840s mark a new stage of the improvement of the area of the Academy's garden. At that time, two two-storey apartment blocks for Academy's professors were constructed on both sides of the Portico, to the design of Aleksandr Bryullov. However, the subsequent superstructures and modifications deprived the ensemble of its integrity. In accordance with sketches by Bryullov, a garden iron fence was constructed as well as a column in the centre of the garden.

In 1862–1864, the building of the Mosaic Institution facing the 3rd Liniya Street was constructed to a design of Eppinger.

The Museum of the Russian Academy of Arts is one of the oldest art collectors in Saint Petersburg and the first Russia's public museum. The Museum was established just a short time after the Academy itself had been founded by Ivan Shuvalov in 1757 during the reign of Empress Elisabeth. From the outset, the goal of the Museum was nurturing future artists with perfect samples of art. The year 1758 is considered the year the Museum establishment. The foundation of the holdings was the Shuvalov's collection that included over 100 paintings and drawings by European masters.

After Catherine the Great had ascended to the throne, she granted a staffing plan, a charter and privileges in 1764 (under Empress Elisabeth, the Academy, then called "The Academy of the Three Most Important Arts", was a branch of the Moscow University). Written on parchment and signed personally by the empress, the original charter is now a part of the Museum's holdings. Created by a team of artists and master sketchers led by the painter Gavriil Ignatyevich Kozlov, it is the most interesting art sample of the time. The text of the privilege was read off during the inauguration of the Academy, on 7th July 1765, by Aleksandr Saltykov, the conference secretary of the Academy. The inauguration ceremony itself, during which the foundation stone was laid and a church was consecrated, took place in the old wooden building, which was adapted for use as classrooms (situated on the Neva embankment between the 3rd Liniya Street and 4th Liniya Street of the Vasilievsky Island, the three houses were united by the same facade). It is on this lot that the present-day building of the Academy in the Early Classical style was under construction from 1764 to 1788, to a design of the architect Jean-Baptiste Vallin de la Mothe. The celebration was attended not only by teachers and students, who received new wine-coloured kaftans and a uniform for the occasion, but also by famous artists, military commanders, grandees, ambassadors, ladies-in-waiting and maids of honour. The Academy was decorated in the exterior and interior with garlands of flowers. There were two imperial yachts on the Neva River firing their cannons. The young tsarina endowed the ceremony with a status of a state event. It was not by accident that the celebration was originally scheduled for 28th June 1764 (an anniversary of Catherine's accession to the throne), then postponed exactly for one year, but then again postponed for some time due to unforeseen circumstances. However, all this took place in the absence of Shuvalov who had been forced to go abroad for a long period of time.

Ivan Betskoy, an experienced courtier and an admirer of the ideas of the French Enlightenment, was appointed the president of the Academy. Founded by Betskoy, the Boarding School at the Academy existed until 1797. Five-sixth year old boys were selected from families of craftsmen, low-rank employees and soldiers to be educated not only in painting, sculpture, architecture and engraving, but also in the arts of medal, jewellery and clock making; in metal casting; in the locksmith's and joiner's art; and in singing, music and dancing.

Students enrolled for the 15-year education programme; during their study years, students were not allowed to meet their parents. Children lived in the Academy itself. The president considered it as the main task to create "new bread of people, free from the flaws of the society"; for this reason, one of the most important subjects was upbringing. Students that did not show special talent for painting and sculpture could find themselves in an artistic handicraft, right there at the Academy. With the assistance of Betskoy, a theatre was opened. At the theatre, performances were supervised by the actor Yakov Shumsky, while students themselves were involved as actors and in set construction. The performances enjoyed popularity even among courtiers; for example, the Former Chaos Disspelled ballet, which was performed during the Pancake Week (Maslenitsa, corresponds to the Western Christian Carnival) of 1778, attracted a great many of high-society spectators. Besides plays by Ancient Greek authors, the repertoire contained European classics. So-called "illuminations" were often arranged; for example, the birth of the future emperor Alexander I was celebrated with "a superb illumination featuring allegorical banners created by collective work of the artists on the Neva embankment in front of the Academy and on the 3rd Liniya Street."

In 1786, a foundry was open at the Academy that cast statues for palaces and suburban residencies. From 1770 to 1786, ten students of the Boarding School studied at the Academy (in those time, admission was organised every three years). The collection of the Museum was enlarging: in 1765, the Museum received, "for the benefit of the students", over forty works by Johann Friedrich Groot, a court painter who also taught the "beast and bird" class at the Academy. Betskoy himself bequeathed "two cabinets filled with engraved antiques, quite ancient, and with rare cast copies of images of various historic persons made mostly by French artists" to the Academy.

Students were surrounded by works of art: paintings could be seen not only at the Museum and at exhibitions, but also in lecture halls; the idea was that it was easier to educate when you always had perfect samples before your eyes. Copying works of old masters was part of the programme; this was used for studying colour and composition. Students were also free to use the rich library that in those times stored drawings, engravings (one was even allowed to take them home) and splendidly illustrated books on art. Among the first acquisitions were paintings and drawings brought to Russia by foreign teachers; the conditions of their contracts and the Rules (Reglament) written by Shuvalov required that every coming professor donated works of art to the Museum. For example, the French painters donated drawings: Louis-Joseph Le Lorrain — over 160, L.-J. Lagrene — 190. Etienne Maurice Falconet, the creator of the Bronze Horseman monument, donated two paintings: Pigmalion and Galatea by Boucher and The Assumption of the Virgin by Charles-Andre van Loo.

Besides the works transferred by Empress Elisabeth and Empress Catherine the Great from the Winter Palace and Oranienbaum Palace as well as from Peterhof, the collection of the museum was enlarged with canvases from private holdings. For example, during the 1830s the Museum received the following: paintings from the collection of Grigory V. Orlov, paintings sequestered from the estate of Duke Sapieha and (in 1836) over fifty works of painting from the art gallery of Count Vasily Musin-Pushkin-Bruce bought by the state and handed over to the Academy of Arts by order of Nicholas I.

The significance attached to the development of the Academy by the monarchs motivated rich grandees and foreign artists to seek honorary membership. After having been granted membership, one was required to send his portrait. This resulted in a very interesting portrait gallery featuring presidents, professors and honorary members. The gallery was situated in the Council Room and after the 1917 Russian Revolution was handed over to the Museum itself. Part of this gallery had preserved to our time; however, the most valuable portraits ended up in the Hermitage and the Russian Museum. Among the first honorary friends and honorary members were Grand Duke Pavel Petrovich, Count Aleksandr Stroganov (the president of the Academy of Arts in 1800–1811), Count Grigory G. Orlov, Count Andrey Shuvalov, Count Nikita Panin and Duke Aleksandr Golitsyn.

Each president promoted the development of the Academy, to a greater or lesser extent. Count Aleksey Musin-Pushkin replaced Betskoy after the latter's death; he donated his funds for rewarding the best works of the Academy's members. These works were put on display to the public every year in July on the occasion of the Academy's opening. Count Marie-Gabriel-Florent-Auguste de Choiseul-Gouffier, a French diplomat, an archaeologist, a great expert in the Classical Antiquity and an author of scientific and literary research works on the history of Ancient Greece, emigrated from France to Russia after the French Revolution and was appointed the director of the Public Library and the president of the Academy by Emperor Paul I. In 1798, at his initiative a free-of-charge drawing class for people of any rank was established.

Since the early 19th century, the Academy was involved in projects of decoration of the capital and other cities of Russia. For many decades, construction of "monuments of the national fame" was allowed only upon approval by the Academy. The next president, Count Stroganov, an art patron and an owner of one of the best art galleries, was a head of the committee for the construction of the Kazan Cathedral in Saint Petersburg. He took special care to commission the construction and decoration of this cathedral (built to the design by Andrey Voronikhin) to Russian masters. For students of the architecture class, the construction works provided many practical exercises. The sculptural and pictorial decorations were also done by artists from the academic circle. This was very important for the development of the fledgling Russian national school of art. It is very hard to overestimate the contribution of Stroganov: he extended teaching of scientific subjects and used his own funds for student allowances. In his palace in Nevsky Avenue, students were able to study and copy outstanding art works that the count had collected during his trips abroad. Being a highly educated person, Stroganov patronised poets, writers and composers such as Gavriil Derzhavin, Dmitry Bortnyansky and Ippolit Bogdanovich. In 1807, a medal was stamped in the honour of Stroganov. The writing on the medal read: "In the memory of his leadership that brought us great benefit. The grateful Academy of Arts."

The artistic taste of the next president, Aleksey Olenin, an expert in the Classical Antiquity and Renaissance, formed in Germany under the influence of ideas of Johann Joachim Winckelmann and Gotthold Ephraim Lessing. Olenin took interest in archaeology, engaged in engraving, studied the foundations of medal making and collected antiquities. Appointed the director of the Imperial Public Library in 1811, he contributed a lot of effort towards its official opening to the public. He was often visited by various artists such as Vladimir Borovikovsky, members of the Bryullov family, Alexey Venetsianov, Aleksandr Varnek, Samuil Galberg, Fyodor Iordan, Orest Adamovich Kiprensky, Ivan Terebenev and Ivan Martos. The mansion in Saint Petersburg and the Priyutino estate were the favourite meeting places for such poets and writers as Nikolay Karamzin, Aleksandr Pushkin, Ivan Krylov, Nikolay Gnedich and Konstantin Batyushkov Under the supervision of Olenin, archaelogical research of Fyodor Solntsev was performed and a multi-volume description of Russian historical monuments, Antiques of the Russian State, was under preparation for publishing. Olenin wrote a number of works including A Brief Historical Review of the State of the Imperial Academy of Arts in 1764–1829. Being an assiduous manager, he set up the "household" of the Academy. Construction works were performed inside the Academy itself (decorated with panel paintings and high relieves, the Cast-Iron Staircase was constructed in the area of the Museum, to a design of Mikhailov) as well as on the adjacent territory (in the garden of the Academy, the construction of the Antique Portico was started, to a design of the same architect). In the late 1820s, under the supervision of the architect Konstantin Thorn, the final phase of the finishing works on state interiors of the Academy was started, and a collection of copies of Ancient Greek sculptures occupied the Antique Galleries. In front of the Academy, a granite embankment was constructed and sphinxes, which had been brought from Egypt, were installed. Olenin restored the tradition of music and dance evening parties and theatrical performances, which were often visited by the fable writer Krylov as well as Gnedich and Batyushkov. Spanning around thirty-years, his presidency mostly overlapped with the epoch of Nicholas I who thoroughly entered all the business of the Academy and assisted many times in enlarging the art holdings of the Museum.

It was him who decided that only a member of the imperial family might be appointed the president of the Academy. Duke Maximilian von Leuchtenberg, a son of the Italian viceroy Eugene Rose de Beauharnais and the husband of the Emperor's favourite daughter Maria, became the first such president and headed the Academy in 1843 to 1852. The duke possessed vast knowledge in the field of natural sciences and developed the idea of engraving using galvanic plating boards. During his presidency, the Mosaic Institution was opened, the Moscow School of Art was established, private drawing schools were founded in Saransk, Warsaw and Kiev, which received all kinds of support, including teaching aids, from the Academy. In 1851, the Academy organised the first Russia's exhibition of works from private collections. This was an implementation of an idea that originated from the duke. Apart from the Stroganovs, Musin-Pushkins, Shuvalovs, Lobanov-Rostovskys, Sheremetyevs, the exhibition attracted as participants not only serious collectors (Auguste Ricard de Montferrand and Fyodor Pryanishnikov), but also representatives of various social classes that had been invited to take part in the exhibition through advertisements in newspapers. Over 1,000 exhibits were selected and placed in the First and Second Antique Galleries, in the Grand and Small Libraries (later they would be rebuilt and their function would change: the Grand Library would turn into the Pimenov Room) as well as in the rooms around the "circle" (the enfilade of rooms around the circular courtyard). The organisers of this unique exhibition managed to concentrate many valuable works in the Academy: works of painting by the 17th and 18th century European schools, the 18th and 19th century Russian works of painting, drawings, works of decorative and applied art, engravings and interesting samples of weapons (works by students of the Academy's engraving class were among them). Undoubtedly, the exhibition had a great value for the Saint Petersburg public, which was able to see works of a high art level that were part of private and closed-to-the-public collections. However, one must also note its enormous value for the students of the Academy. They were provided with an opportunity not only to receive aesthetic pleasure, but also to develop their taste and extend their knowledge. This was extremely important, because on one hand only the best students, the golden medal winners, were entitled to receive state funding for the trips abroad, while on the other hand the Russian treasures of art were out of reach. Even for copying at the Hermitage a special uniform (a frock coat) and a special permission from the Court Office were required. After Maximilian von Leuchtenberg had died, his wife Grand Dutchess Maria Nikolayevna took over the position of the president. In 1861, she continued the grand idea of her husband (who owned a superb art gallery) by organising an exhibition of rare works of art from imperial palaces and private holdings. Both the exhibitions were charity events: the first one was organised for the purpose of assisting the Society for Visiting the Poor, while the funds obtained from selling works at the 1861 exhibition were used for construction of a dormitory for poor students of the Academy.

Bequeathed to the Academy in 1862, the collection of Count Nikolay Kushelev-Bezborodko was one of the most valuable acquisitions of the Museum. It contained 466 paintings and 29 sculptures (according to the most complete catalogue published in 1886). Fulfilling the last will of the count, part of the collection was put on display separately as a public gallery, in the rooms of the first floor in the 3rd Liniya Street that were connected with the Museum of Painting through the Blue Room. According to researchers, the best paintings from the family collection went to the elder brother, Grigory Kushelev-Bezborodko. Nikolay Kushelev-Bezborodko obtained The Adoration of the Kings by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, The King Drinks by Jacob Jordaens, Ecco Homo by Peter Paul Rubens and other canvases. However, for students of the Academy the most valuable part of the family collection was contemporary paintings by French masters: Ferdinand Victor Eugene Delacroix, Jean-Francois Millet, Jean Desire Gustave Courbet, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Theodore Rousseau and Constant Troyon. These artists made a great contribution to the development of plen-air painting, and their works purchased by Kushelev-Bezborodko himself (mostly, during his trips abroad) were on display not only at temporary exhibitions in the Academy and the Imperial Society for Promoting Arts, but also in the permanent Kushelev Gallery (at that time, the Hermitage did not have a practice of acquiring works by contemporary European painters). Kushelev-Bezborodko also paid his homage to the Russian school: his collection also contained works by Ivan Aivazovsky, Aleksey Bogolyubov, Fidelio Bruni, Karl Bryullov, I. G. Goravsky, A. Ivanov (Chernetsov's student), Lev Lagorio, Pimen Orlov, Mikhail Sazhin, Nikolay Sverchkov, Vladimir Sverchkov, L. V. Strashinsky and Pavel Shiltsov.

Many and different painters such as Vasily Perov, Nikolay Ge, Konstantin Korovin, Arkady Rylov and Alexandre Benois publicly acknowledged the value of this unique gallery for future painters. The former, Benois, understood very well the artistic and historical value of the Kushelev Gallery. Being the head of the Art Gallery at the Hermitage, it was him who ordered to transfer the Kushelev Gallery to the Hermitage in 1918. By doing so, he went against the will of the owner who specifically had wished to donate his collection to a museum at a higher educational institution of art. Later, several minor works would be returned to the Museum of the Academy.

The deed of Kushelev-Bezborodko inspired inheritors of other collections. However, not all the donated works were approved as being worthy to be situated in the Academy itself. A relatively significant number was handed over to provincial art schools and museums that were patronised by the Academy. The number of such schools and museums grew significantly in the second half of the 19th century. The collection of M. N. Nikonov, the director of the chancellery of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the one of V. E. Krausold, which were donated in the first years of the 20th century, remained at the Academy. However, the paintings from the small Nikonov collection donated by his executor P. L. Vaksel went to storerooms, while at the urging of the inheritor the collection of Krausold (containing 72 works of painting by Giacinto Gigante, L. Isabey, Alexandre Calame, Gabriel Cornelius Ritter von Max and other famous masters of the Russian school and various European schools) was immediately placed next to the Kushelev Gallery, well complementing the content of the latter.

Virtually since the first years of Academy's existence, one of the most important tasks had been creating holdings that would allow to trace all the stages of the development of the Russian art school. The holdings of the Museum were enlarged with the best student works (drawings, sketches, diploma works), works by the best academy graduates (copies of works by artists of European schools and own-made paintings, sculptures and drawings) as well as creative works by masters of the Academy's circle: Anton Losenko, S. F. Shchendrin, Gavriil Kozlov, Grigory Ugryumov, Fedot Shubin, Pyotr Sokolov, Mikhail Kozlovsky, Ivan Martos, Ivan Prokofyev, Karl Bryullov, Fidelio Bruni, Ilya Repin, Vasily Surikov and Henryk Siemiradzki. The Museum also received works by foreign masters: honorary members and artists that taught at the Academy (including the Frech painters Louis-Joseph Le Lorrain, L. -J. Lagrene and Jean-Laurent Mosnier and the Italian Stefano Torelli). In Paris, Ivan Betskoy acquired a number of superb drawings including a collection of drawings by Jean-Baptiste Greuze, which he bought from the author himself at his workshop. Gradually, the classes themselves (the life class, the sketching class, the watercolour painting class, the mannequin class and the composition class) came to possess the whole collections of the best student works that had been marked highly by the Council of Professors or had been awarded with medals and selected as "originals" (i. e., models for later generations of students).

This is how Alexandre Benois remembered his brief stay at the composition class: "The topic (always historical) set by the committee of professors was written on a sheet of paper and put into a locked glass-case, while the famous album of costumes by Gottenrot was opened at the page that depicted types of costumes of the corresponding epoch. The glass-case stood in the middle of a relatively large room. The walls of the room were covered with drawings and water colour paintings that in various times had won the approval of the Academy's "Areopagus." Next to eye-catching, sepia drawings by Siemiradzki a la Paul Gustave Dore, there was a strictly classical watercolour painting by Soltsev depicting an episode of the Byzantine history, etc. It was entertaining to see this collection varied by spirit, colours and techniques and to day-dream that my work would also find its place here among these early works of great predecessors." In the late 19th century, all the student collections from lecture rooms as well as the portrait gallery of the Council Room were handed over to the Museum.

Until the 1917 Russian Revolution, the art holdings of the Academy were divided into several museums: in literature, one may encounter the division into the Museum of Painting, the Kushelev Gallery and the Museum of Sculpture, the latter containing originals, copies and casts mostly situated in the ground floor around the "circle". Its foundations were laid with antique sculptures and casts acquired by Ivan Shuvalov in Italy and Greece for the Academy, by order of Catherine the Great. The core of the collection was made up of these works and works by the sculptors Etienne Maurice Falconet and Marie-Anne Collot and the donation of the author of the Bronze Horseman that included copies of the 17th and 18th century European sculpture works. Soon the Academy would possess a collection of "antiques" of rare quality. At the Metal Casting House, these "antiques" were used to cast bronze sculptures that decorated parks and palaces of Saint Petersburg and its suburbs. In the 18th century, Admiral G. A. Spiridonov donated marble statues, heads and relieves that he had brought from Greek islands during a Russo-Turkish war. In the early 19th century, the sculpture department was extended with works by B. -K. Rastrelli and a collection of Chevalier A. F. Farsetti. In 1801, this Venetian nobleman, commendator of the Order of Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, sent around 600 works of sculpture to the Academy; he dedicated his donation to the Russian throne. His collection consisted of plaster and marble statues, busts, sculpture models, terracotta low relieves and moulds by outstanding Italian sculptors of the Baroque and Renaissance epoch: Michelangelo, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Alessandro Algardi, and Francesco Moderati. Despite the fact that in the 1920s and 1930s most exhibits were handed over to the Hermitage, the Museum retained a significant part of the collection.

By the late 19th century, the Museum possessed works of Egyptian, Syrian, Greek and Roman sculptors, works of plastic art by masters of the Renaissance and Baroque. The 18th and 19th century works of Russian sculpture were placed in the foyer of the first floor, around "the circle" and in the neighbouring rooms (ranging from works of the first sculpture class supervisor, Nicolas-Francois Gillet, and his students Fedot Shubin, Ivan Prokofyev and Mikhail Kozlovsky to Hugo Zaleman and Vladimir Beklemishev).

The collection of architectural sketches and models, which is even at present one of the Russia's best, also started taking shape in the 18th century. Its foundation was an album of the French master Jacques-Francois Blondel who designed the Moscow building of the Academy. Later, the collection was enlarged with the best projects by graduates of the Academy (Ilya Neyelov, Vasily Bazhenov, Ivan Yegorovich Starov and others) as well as with sketches by supervisors of the class (Jean-Baptiste Michel Vallin de la Mothe, Aleksandr Kokorinov and Jean-Francois Thomas de Thomon). In 1766, the Museum obtained a design model of the Academy's building made by a team of carvers supervised by Aleksandr Kokorinov. And in 20 years the Museum received a model of the Smolny Convent constructed to a design by Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli (featuring an unimplemented bell tower).

In 1800, during Aleksandr Stroganov's presidency, by Imperial order the Academy was granted all the architectural models of the Hermitage. Among the received models were 34 cork models of structures from the classical antiquity. The models were created by the Italian Antonio Chichi on commission from Catherine the Great for her little grandsons Alexander (later, Alexander I) and Konstantin (later, Grand Duke Konstantin Pavlovich). The collection was enlarged with models of various Saint Petersburg buildings: the St. Michael's Castle by Vincenzo Brenna, the Stock Exchange on the Vasilievsky Island by Jean-Francois Thomas de Thomon, the St.Isaac's Cathedral by Antonio Rinaldi and Auguste Ricard de Montferrand.

Since the unique models did not have their permanent storage and display place, they were often moved because of exhibitions. Judging by an ancient engraving, in the times of Aleksandr Pushkin (who visited the Academy) a significant number of the models was placed in the gallery of the second floor. In 1910, there came an idea to create a "museum of the old Academy of Arts" that would concentrate all the works related to the beginning of the Academy's existence. It was planned to time the opening of this new museum to coincide with the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Academy (the reference point was the year 1764 when the staffing plan, charter and privileges were adopted). The new museum was supposed to house paintings of the Shuvalov collection, portraits of academicians, tapestries and the original of the first charter, furniture and works of decorative and applied art, and design models of the Academy's building and of the garden's Antique Portico. The exhibitions of the museum were allocated rooms to the left of the entrance up to the 4th Liniya Street (the first floor of the main building) that had been formerly occupied by apartments for professors. Unfortunately, the new museum was not created, but the growing Museum received rooms facing the Neva embankment and constituting the part of the facade to the left from the main entrance. In 1911, part of the very interesting Historical Exhibition of Architecture and Art Industry occupied these lower rooms. The exhibition was organised by the Society of Art Architects patronised by Grand Dutchess Maria Pavlovna, the president of the Academy.

Presided by Alexandre Benois, the exhibition committee included the famous collector Duke Vladimir Argutinsky-Dolgoruky, the architecture professor Leon Benois, the art historian Baron Nikolay Nikolayevich Wrangel, the expert on Saint Petersburg Vladimir Kurbatov, the artist Mstislav Valerianovich Dobuzhinsky and other people of art. The catalogue by the architect Ivan Fomin provides an idea of exhibits from various institutions: the Archive of the Academy of Sciences, the Museum of Old Saint Petersburg, the Winter Palace, the Archive of the Ministry of the Imperial Court, the Tsarskoye Selo Arsenal and the collections of the princess of Saxe-Altenburg. Exhibits came also from the Chancellery of the Academy and from the collection of the Museum (for example, various models: the Stock Exchange by Thomas de Thomon; the Saint Petersburg Triumphal Gate (dedicated to Caterine the Great and to the victory in the Russo-Turkish war) by Charles-Louis Clerisseau, a French architect and art theoretician, an honorary member of the Academy; the Smolny Convent by Rastrelli; the St. Isaac's Cathedral by Rinaldi and de Montferrand; and the St. Michael's Castle by Brenna).

The models and casts of the Alhambra, a country palace in Spain, are also related to the architecture collection. Made to drawings of Academician Pavel Notbek, this collection represents the 13th and 14th century Moorish style and consists of ornaments, casts of fragments of window and arc decorations, and plaster models of the restored sections of the Alhambra. The architects Karl Rahau and Karl Karlovich Kollmann continued the restoration works in Spain and made drawings and designs, which would be acquired by the Academy and send to the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1866. The Alhambra collection, which used to occupy a separate small 2nd floor room adjacent to the architecture classroom, is still possessed by the Museum.

The Munzkabinett, a collection of medals and coins, existed at the Academy. Its Greek, Roman, Byzantine, European and Russian medals and coins, their replicas and galvanoplastic copies of rare medallions served as a good aid for studying the art of medal making.

Almost nothing has been preserved of the Museum of Costumes and Tools for Nature Morte painting, which was founded by President Olenin. Having established the Rustkamer (Costume Room), he donated his collection of ancient French, Japanese and Russian weapons and his collection of household objects used by peoples of the Pacific Islands. Later, after the costume class had been established at the private initiative of artists, the collection grew significantly. For example, Duke Grigory Gagarin, the vice-president of the Academy, handed over costumes of peoples of the Orient. After the Museum of Ancient Russian Art (also known as the Museum of Christian Antiquities), which occupied the ground floor in the 3rd Liniya Street, had been abolished in 1886, its exhibits (boxes, caskets, chain mails, ancient costumes, church robes) went to the Museum of Costumes and Tools for Nature Morte painting. In 1871, Grand Dukes Vladimir Aleksandrovich, Aleksey Aleksandrovich and Nikolay Nikolayevich Junior donated ten costumes that they had used to participate in tableux vivants at the palace.

In the late 19th century, the holdings were enlarged with collections acquired from the painters Pyotr Gruzinsky and Nikolay Dmitriyev-Orenburgsky, with donations by Gottfried Willewalde, the supervisor of the military art class, and Professor Vladimir Yegorovich Makovsky. When the new charter was introduced in 1893, the costume class was abolished, and in 1899 the museum was renamed the Costume Collection of the Imperial Academy of Arts.

For a long time, the holdings of the Museum and the Academy (as an educational institution) were a single whole; only gradually it was recognised that works of art required special museum care, which was little practised in the beginning. Drawings, engravings, architectural designs were kept at the library, and during a period of time it was even allowed to take them home. Until the 1860s, the Museum and library shared curators, which led to harmful consequences. Many times archive documents mention aged painting being written off and canvases or drawings having been lost.

The annual report exhibitions featured works by students and graduates; artists who competed for the titles of Academician and Professor. Later, the Spring Exhibitions would be organised. All these exhibitions attracted a lot of visitors and were widely discussed. The Museum, which had been open to the public since 1762, was visited not only by members of the Imperial family, foreign kings and princes, and Russian and European statesmen, but also famous writers and poets such as Konstantin Batyushkov, Nikolay Vasilyevich Gogol and Fyodor Doestoyevsky.

Starting from the second half of the 19th century, at the Academy's exhibitions one could get introduced to works of famous as well as yet unrecognised European masters. The exhibitions spanned increasingly many topics, especially in the early 20th century. Apart from the already mentioned Historical Exhibition of Architecture and Art Industry, it is important to note the Lomonosov and the Elisabethan Era exhibition and the exhibition dedicated to the 300th anniversary of the House of Romanov (part of exhibits was brought from Germany). Exhibitions of the Museum were also on display at these exhibitions. Works from the collection of the Museum were demonstrated at all-Russian art and industry exhibitions as well as at the World Fairs and Universal Exhibitions. Patronising provincial art schools, the Academy not only purchased work for them at exhibitions, but also handed over paintings and drawings from its own collection. In 1897, over 100 sculptures, paintings and drawings of the most famous masters of the Academy's school (Ivan Aivazovsky, Karl Bryullov, Fidelio Bruni, Ilya Repin, and Fedot Shubin) were handed over to the new Emperor Alexander III Russian Museum, which was founded with the direct involvement of the Academy.

By the late 19th century, the Museum of the Academy had significantly outgrown the tasks and functions of a purely educational museum. The Museum had accumulated a large, significant collection of the European and Russian art and had become the only museum possessing an art collection of the Russian school.

After the 1917 February Revolution, the Saint Petersburg community was concerned for the fate of the art monuments. The Council for Art at the Provisional Government (the Council, for short) and the newly founded Union of Artists (headed by the architect Aleksandr Tamanov (Tamanyan), the vice-president of the Academy) participated in establishing committees and preparing draft laws. The Council discussed problems of museums and separation of the high and higher education in art from the Academy.

When the front line threatened to move close to Saint Petersburg in the autumn of 1917, the Council oversaw evacuation of art valuables from the Hermitage, the Russian Museum, the Academy and from suburban palaces. The evacuated items were kept in Moscow, at the Grand Kremlin Palace, the Kremlin Armoury and the Historical Museum. No sooner than in 1919, the Committee for Museum Affairs and Protection of Art and Antiquity Monuments adopted a decree on the return of the art works, but it was implemented only after the Civil War had finished.

On 12th April 1918, a decree of the Council of People's Commissars (the central government) completely abolished the Academy, and the Academy's Museum was shut down.

In the same year, 1918, the Academy's building housed new educational institutions: the Free Art Workshops and, later, the Petrograd State Educational Art Workshops. The administration of the new educational institution did not support the Museum, which could be explained by a strongly negative attitude towards the traditional school of Realism.of Vladimir Tatlin, Natan Altmann and Pavel Filonov (very influential figures in the Department of Visual Arts at the People's Commissariat (Ministry) for Education that supervised the art life of the republic) . Their goal was to develop culture that would be free of ideology. New teaching methods were adopted. These methods did not include studies of nature and of the achievements of the old masters. Experiments with the shape were encouraged. This period is characterised by emergence of a great number of art groups and teaching systems as well as by active discussions on the development directions that the culture of the young Soviet state should take. Apart from the left wing, teachers that had been formed by the classical education system such as Aleksey Savinov, Arkady Rylov, Dmitry Kardovsky, Leon Benois, Ivan Fomin and Vsevolod Lishev continued teaching in the former Academy's building. In 1921–1922, under the rector Andrey Yevgenyevich Belogrud the first attempt to come back to the old teaching principles was undertaken. This was negatively received by the group of teachers headed by Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin, the pro-rector for education.

Transferred under management of the Department for Property at the People's Commissariat (Ministry) for Education, the items and equipment of the Museum were exclusively regarded as the holdings that were supposed to be handed over to other museums, first of all to the Russian Museum and the Hermitage. Those two museums sent their representative to select works of art. As soon as in December of 1918, the Hermitage took the original antique statues as well as the works of the European sculptors. The works of painting were sent to provincial museums. The abolishment of the Academy's Museum was performed most actively after the collection of the Museum returned from Moscow in November of 1922. While still in Moscow, the property of the Museum (kept in 154 sealed crates) was transferred under management of the Museum Department at the Main Directorate for Science. Not all returned to the Academy; the Hermitage received 41 crates containing masterpieces of the Kushelev Gallery (as mentioned before, bequeathed to the Academy by Count Nikolay Kushelev-Bezborodko in 1862), paintings of European masters, collections of coins and tapestries, several works of Russian artists from the Academy's historical collection as well as church plate and icons from the Academy's Church of Saint Catherine (The Agony in the Garden by Fidelio Bruni, Saint Catherine and Saint Aleksandr Nevsky by Vasily Shebuyev).

In 1923, the largest part of what had returned from Moscow went to the Russian Museum (including works by Ivan Nikitin, Andrey Matveyev, Anton Losenko, Orest Kiprensky, Fedot Shubin, Mikhail Kozlovsky, Ivan Prokofyev, Karl Bryullov, Aleksandr Ivanov and many others).

In 1925, the Russian Museum received drawings and engravings by Russian and European masters from the Academy's library; all these works were part of the teaching process. In return, the library received a number of books and architecture albums.

The revival of the Museum was due first and foremost to E. E. Essen, the former graduate of the Faculty of Architecture, who was appointed the rector of the Higher Institute of Art and Technology (the Institute, for short; the name of the Petrograd State Educational Art Workshops since August of 1923) in June of 1925 and held this position for four years. The educational and exhibitory museum reoccupied parts of the State Rooms in the first floor and of the Kushelev Gallery. The museum introduced visitors to the 16th, 17th and 18th century Italian art. Copies of original paintings, plaster casts, designs and sketches of Italy's architectural monuments served as exhibits. Part of them was received from the former school of Baron Alexander von Stieglitz after it joined the Higher Art and Technology Institute in 1925.

In May of 1926, the exhibitions were opened. Meanwhile, the Museum was receiving the works that the Russian Museum started returning. This happened by instruction of the Main Directorate for Science (among those were works by Ivan Akimov, Anton Losenko, Pavel Chistyakov, Henryk Siemiradzki, Boris Kustodiyev and Aleksandr Yakovlev). The Hermitage handed over copies of paintings by the 16th, 17th and 18th century Italian masters and a significant number of engravings only. Essen managed to obtain a permission to receive works from the State Museum Holdings. The State Publishing House, the Society of Art Architects, and the Leningrad State Restoration Workshops assisted in enlarging the holdings of the Museum. Valuable works also came from private individuals. Even at that time the Museum's research functions were officially emphasised. From an administrative point of view, the relation between the Institute and the Museum was reinforced by the fact that the rector of the Institute was at the same time the director of the Museum and the president of the Museum's Council.

In the autumn of 1927, the educational and exhibitory museum opened and started actively working on exhibition-related tasks (exhibitions dedicated to the printing industry and graphic art of the USSR, to the Soviet theatrical and decorative art, to the German graphics; a personal exhibition of Aleksandr Yakovlev; and an exhibition of V. P. Vasyutin and I. I. Vaulin organised by the Old Petersburg Society). The Life of the Peoples of the USSR exhibition (which moved from Moscow) organised by the Association of Artists of Revolutionary Russia was one of the most significant exhibitions. In rooms of the Museum, the Institute's teachers Grigory Kotov, Mikhail Bobyshov, Eugene Lanceret, and Aleksey Savinov conducted classes.

After the first wave of proletkult ("proletarian culture") had subsided, in 1922–1928 such Realism-oriented art organisations as the Association of Artists of Revolutionary Russia, the Arkhip Kuindzhi Society, the Ilya Repin Society, the Community of Artists, and the Society of Easel Painters reinforced their positions. The same period saw the revival of the art school at the Institute. In 1928, after the Revolution and Culture journal (edited by Nikolay Bukharin) had published a number of articles supported by the Section of Literature and Art at the Communist Academy, the struggle of art ideologies intensified again. The Realism and the easel art were confronted with new forms of art (photography, design, and cinema), and the western Modernism was regarded as the model. All this had repercussions for the Institute as well as for the Museum. Essen was accused of restoration of the Academism, and the restoration of the Museum was also seen as a negative aspect of his activity. Dissatisfaction of a part of the Institute's teachers and students was supported by such art groups as The Proletariat, The Circle, The Filonov Group that among other things were against any kind of control in matters related to cultural development, in general, and in matters related to the art school, in particular.

Essen resigned as the rector, while a committee at the Main Directorate for Professional Education adopted a decision to shut the museum down and to hand its rooms over to educational workshops (this process started in the late 1928). F.A. Maslov, a former employee at the Main Directorate, became the new rector of the Institute. His name is synonymous with the complete destruction of the Museum. The "absolutisation of the industrial orientation" of art and school started. Maslov conducted a new reorganisation that merged the Leningrad and Moscow Higher Art and Technology Institutes into the Leningrad Institute of the Proletariat Visual Arts. By Maslov's order of 14th May 1930, the Museum was completely liquidated. Its collections again went to the Russian Museum and the Hermitage as well as to museums of Kharkov, Lvov, Krasnodar, Khabarovsk, Odessa, Dnepropetrovsk, Novgorod, Feodosiya, etc.

The merger of the two institutes and the organisation of the worker's faculty in 1930 required rooms for a dormitory and workshops. The administration of the Institute started barbarously destroying the exhibits of the Museum: unique casts were broken, portraits of the Imperial family were destroyed, the canvases of two panel paintings, The Capture of Kazan and The Battle of Kerzhenets (created in accordance with sketches by Nicholas Roerich at his workshop; designed to decorate the Kazansky Railway Station in Moscow) were cut.

In the autumn of 1931, the Executive Committee of the Leningrad Region (the regional government) issued a decree that ordered the Institute to hand over part of the former museum floor space to city institutions: the Rafael and Pimenov Rooms, the conference rooms, part of the first floor around the "circle" were occupied by the State Institute of City Design and the Research Institute of Civil Aviation. Naturally, this led to some damage to paintings that remained in the rooms. Some people of art became concerned with what was going on in the Academy. This concern was expressed in several newspaper articles, which resulted in a criminal investigation into the liquidation of the Museum being opened by prosecution agencies against Maslov.

In 1932, the Central Committee of the Communist Party issued the famous decree (On Reforming the Literature and Art Organisations), which put an end to the struggle of the various groups and unions. The Social Realism was declared the only acceptable artistic method. The All-Russian Central Executive Committee and the Council of People's Commissars adopted a decree (On the Foundation of the Academy of Arts) that merged research institutions and educational institutions related to visual art. The Institute of the Proletariat Visual Arts was transformed into the Leningrad Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, which would become the country's leading higher education institution of art. The famous sculptor Aleksandr Matveyev became the new rector. He almost immediately started working on re-establishment of the Museum. Since the most valuable preserved items were casts and architectural graphics, a decision was adopted to create two corresponding exhibition departments. In the spring of 1934, the People's Commissariat (Ministry) for Education of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic issued a decree that created the Museum of Architecture at the All-Russian Academy of Arts. The director of the Museum S. K. Isakov (from June of 1934) was subordinate to the Scientific Institute of Architecture at the Academy. The decree instructed the Hermitage and the Public Library to return all the previously received models, architectural designs and casts to the Museum and to also hand over something from their own holdings to the Museum.

In mid-1935, the first 15 rooms of the Museum of Architecture were opened to the public. Practical exercises were systematically taught by Grigory Kotov, German Grimm, S. Turkovsky, and N. Pavlov. The Museum or Architecture was visited not only by students from many cities of the USSR, but also by researchers and museum employees.

In May of 1934, Isaak Izrailevich Brodsky, a teacher at the Leningrad Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture since 1932, was appointed the director of the Academy. In 1939, the issue of the return (by the Russian Museum) of diploma works that used to belong to the historical collection of the Museum was again considered by the Council of People's Commissars; however, the issue remained unsolved.

Before Russia entered the Second World War (1941), Brodsky's apartment in the centre of Leningrad and Ilya Repin's Penates Mansion had become departments of the Museum.

After Brodsky's death, the family of the artist donated his painting and drawing collection to the state. This collection consisted of almost 500 paintings and drawings including works by Ilya Repin, V. Serov, Vasily Surikov, Isaac Levitan, Boris Kustodiyev, works by painters of The World of Art movement as well as by Boris Grigoryev and Marc Chagall. The apartment museum was housed by Brodsky's apartment (used also as a workshop) in the Iskusstv Square, near the Maly Theatre, where he lived during the last 15 years of his life. It was opened in January of 1940.

The Penates Mansion was bequeathed to the Academy by Repin as early as in 1915. However, only when the lands on the Karelian Isthmus were ceded to Russia, after the 1939–1940 Winter War between Russia and Finland, a temporary exhibition, which consisted of over 800 exhibits, was opened in the Penates Mansion in July of 1940. In August of 1940, the mansion was finally handed over to the Academy. However, most Repin's paintings and the largest part of his archive remained in the Ateneum, in Helsinki.

Since the first days of the Second World War, the Academy's Museum had been working on selecting valuable works of art that had to be evacuated. The packed exhibits, including those from the Museum's branches, were moved to cellars. However, the evacuation plan was not implemented, and it was decided to arrange storerooms in rooms of the lower floor of the "circle" and in cellars of the block facing the 4th Liniya Street. The dormitory for employees (those who still remained in Leningrad) and the storerooms had to share the same rooms. The Hermitage accepted a small number of paintings and sculptures for safekeeping by allocating a small cellar for that purpose. The enormous canvases from the Raphael Room and the Titian Room (copies of Renaissance paintings by Russian painters) were rolled onto tubes and left in the Titian Room. Despite the very high ceilings in these rooms, enormous efforts were made to tape the windows and to cover the windows with plywood panels. In February of 1942, an explosion destroyed the panels, and the eight-meter long tubes with the paintings rolled onto them had to be moved to the Raphael Room, which was less damaged.

Repair works started in 1944, after the Leningrad Blockade had been lifted. In July of the same year, the Institute, which was evacuated to Moscow's suburb of Zagorsk in January of 1944, moved back.

In 1947, a new page of the Museum's history was turned when the All-Russian Academy of Arts was transformed into the USSR Academy of Arts. The Museum gained autonomy, acquired the status of a research institution and became part of the Russian Academy of Arts, which had moved to Moscow, on par with the Institute and the Science Library. Since that time, the director of the Museum has also been the head of the Museum's Academic Senate. In 1947, M. Serafimova became the director. The Museum faced two tasks: while serving as a training centre for young artists (meaning certain methodological functions), to be also an art museum that is opened to the public. Since then, the Museum (at present called the Research Museum of the Russian Academy of Arts) has been performing both these functions.

As early as in 1947, when the repair works had not yet been finished and the main exhibitions were still under preparation, organisation of temporary exhibitions (those of Ivan Shishkin and Nikolay Schilder and Painting and Drawing at the Academy of Arts in the 19th and Early 20th Centuries) was under way. And later the Museum would not only provide space for "ready-made" exhibitions of outstanding Russian artists and, somewhat less often, artists from other countries, but would organise exhibitions itself by collecting works from various Russia's museums. Moreover, the Museum hosted methodological exhibitions dedicated to various teaching problems such as Monumental Painting and Sculpture (1968), Study-Related Works by Students of Art Schools and Schools of Decorative and Applied Art (1970), Study-Related Drawing at Secondary Schools of Art (1972), Architecture and Methodology (1986), and Study-Related Drawing at Higher Educational Institutions of Art (1987). These exhibitions served as bases for conferences, and the proceedings of these conferences were used for improving instructor's manuals and study programmes.

An entire series of exhibitions was dedicated to artists related to the Academy. For example, in 1969 an exhibition dedicated to Ilya Repin was organised. Not only his works related to studies at the Academy, but also paintings by his students were on display (in the same second-floor workshop where Repin taught classes as a professor of the Higher School of Art at the Academy). Other exhibitions such as Arkhip Kuindzhi and His Students (1974), Pavel Shillingovsky and His Students (1980) and Yelizaveta Kruglikova and Her Students (1986) were based on the same principle.

In 1992, the Museum was renamed the Research Museum of the Russian Academy of Arts. Together with other institutions of the Academy, it is considered a highly valuable Russia's cultural object.

In the course of its convoluted history intimately connected with the history of Russia, the Museum managed to preserve its small but high-quality collection of the 15th–19th century Western European paintings, drawings, sculptures and engravings. Some works from this collection were part of the historical collection of the Academy, while some of them were obtained during the restoration of the Museum.

The Museum is proud to possess works of painting by Andrea Celesti, Luca Giordano, Reyer Jacobsz van Blommendael, Agostino Carracci, Guercino, Gregorio Lazzarini, Anton Raphael Mengs, Abraham Hondius, Angelika Kauffmann, Daniel Seghers, Francesco Giuseppe Casanova, P. F. Mol, and K. E. Birmann as well as drawings by Jean-Baptiste Greuze, Charles-Joseph Natoire, Charles Le Brun, Jean-Baptiste Jouvenet, Christian Wilhelm Ernst Dietrich, Anton Raphael Mengs, Carl Graeb, Paul-Jacques-Aime Baudry and Giuseppe Bossi.

In 1769, albums containing around 7,000 drawings bought from Ivan Betskoy were handed over to the Academy by Catherine the Great. After the largest part of them had been handed over to the Hermitage, over 3,500 sheets remained at the Museum. This included works by such famous master as Palma Vecchio, Palma Giovane, A. della Bella, Agostino Carracci, Jacopo Amigoni, Pompeo Batoni, L. -J. Lagrene, and Johann Georg Bergmuller, though the majority of the drawings are by less famous painters of the 15th–18th centuries, belonging to different schools. Together with the painting department, the sculpture department suffered more than other departments during the period when the Museum was being abolished. The department contains not only a part of the Farsetti collection, which remained at the Academy (it include remarkable terracotta relieves by such Italian Baroque sculptors as Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Alessandro Algardi, Stefano Maderno, and Francesco Moderati), but also works by Marie-Anne Collot, Antoine Coysevox, Pierre Paul Puget, and Auguste Rodin The collections of the architecture department are characterised by a much greater completeness. Apart from unique models, this department includes architectural designs and drawings.

The primary purpose of the temporary exhibitions organised by the Museum is restoration and study of its holdings. Among the most significant such exhibition, one may mention the following: The 18th and 19th Century Russian Portrait. Painting, Graphics, and Sculpture (1993), The Dialogues of the Fine Arts: Saint Petersburg — Europe. Painting, Graphics, Sculpture and Architecture (1994), Catherine the Great and the Academy of Arts. Painting, Graphics and Sculpture (1996), To the Free Arts. The 240th Anniversary of the Academy of Arts (1997), The Imperial Palaces of Saint Petersburg and Its Suburbs. Designs of Palaces and Suburban Residencies of the Members of the Imperial Family, Saint Petersburg, the Second Half of the 19th Century (1998), A Tour Around Europe: Graduates of the Imperial Academy of Arts Abroad. Painting, Drawing, Architecture, Sculpture and Engraving (2000), Russian Artists Abroad. The 20th Century (2001), and Germans and the Academy of Arts. The 18th – Early 20th Centuries (2003).

The Museum demonstrates its holdings in Moscow in rooms of the Academy on a regular basis. The largest exhibition was an exhibition dedicated to the 300th anniversary of Saint Petersburg, The 17th – Early 20th Century Russian and Western European Art, From the Holdings of the Research Museum of the Russian Academy of Arts, Saint Petersburg.

The Museum participates in various international events, in Russia as well as in other counties. In 1999 and 2000, at the Evolution of the Interior International Festival in Saint Petersburg the Museum organised two exhibition of its holdings: The Russian Interior in the Ages of Baroque and Neoclassicism and The Interior in the Works of Carlo de Rossi. The 225th Anniversary of Rossi's Birthday. Among the most significant exhibitions is an exhibition that took place at the Mona Bismarck Foundation in Paris in 1993, The Saint Petersburg of Six Architects. The 18th and 19th Century Architectural Drawings; the exhibition was exclusively made up of the Museum's materials. Together with other large museums, the Museum participated in: a large international exhibition, The Triumph of the Baroque. European architecture in 1600–1750 (in 1999–2001, this exhibition was shown in Italy, the USA, Canada and France); The Stroganovs. The Palace and Collections of a Noble Russian Family (in 2000, this exhibition was shown in two cities of the USA and in 2003 — in the Netherlands, later it was demonstrated at the Hermitage); From a Myth to a Design (an architectural exhibition dedicated to work of Italian architects in Russia, from Catherine the Great to Alexander I; it was shown first in Switzerland in 2003 and later at the Hermitage); The Imperial Saint Petersburg, from Peter the Great to Catherine the Great, 2004–2005, the Grimaldi Forum, Monaco; and Italy-Russia. Through the Ages. From Giotto to Malevich, Scuderie del Quirinale, Rome (from February to May of 2005 — at the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts).

The holdings of the Museum are enlarged with donations by artists (and their relatives) as well as with study-related and diploma works by graduates of the Saint Petersburg Repin State Academic Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture and the Moscow Surikov Institute (the latter supplied the Museum with works from the 1950s to the 1980s). In the early 1990s, the Museum was forced to completely stop acquisitions, however rare, due to funding problems.

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Russian Academy Of Fine Arts Museum