Academy of Arts

Founded by resolution of the Senate (6 November 1757). Based on a project of Count Ivan Shuvalov, the first director, for an “Academy of the Three Noblest Arts” – a closed educational establishment with departments of painting, sculpture and architecture. The first students enrolled (1758) and graduated under Alexander Kokorinov (1762). Transformed into the Imperial Academy of Arts (1764) – a state institution regulating Russian art life, assigning official commissions and awarding academic honours. Opened a school where children were taught from the age of five or six. After a nine-year course of studies, pupils finished their education in one of the higher classes – history painting, portraiture, engraving, sculpture or architecture – and submitted a graduation work on a set theme. Graduates awarded gold medals were sent abroad to perfect their art as Academy fellows (from 1767). Originally housed in Count Ivan Shuvalov’s premises on Sadovaya Street. Jean-Baptiste-Michel Vallin de la Mothe built a new building (1764–88). Construction of the garden and circular inner wings was headed by Alexander Kokorinov. Georg Friedrich von Veldten and Yegor Sokolov built the main wing facing the River Neva (1766–88). The Academy complex included the Drawing Wing in the garden designed by Andrei Mikhailov (1819–21), mosaic studios designed by Fyodor Eppinger (1862–64), residential block in the garden designed by Alexander Brullov and Johann Heinrich von Kelchen (1846, reconstructed 1900s) and a battle-painting studio designed by Vasily Svinin (1897).

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