The Russian Canvas: Painting in Imperial Russia, 1757-1881 by Rosalind P. Blakesley

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The Russian Canvas charts the remarkable rise of Russian painting in the 18th and 19th centuries, and the nature of its relationship with other European schools. Starting with the foundation of the Imperial Academy of the Arts in 1757 and culminating with the assassination of Tsar Alexander II in 1881, it details the professionalisation and wide-ranging activities of painters against a backdrop of dramatic social and political change. The Imperial Academy formalised artistic training but later became a foil for dissent, as successive generations of painters negotiated their own positions between pan-European engagement and local and national identities.

Drawing on original archival research, this ground-breaking book recontextualises the work of major artists, revives the reputations of others, and explores the complex developments that took Russian painters from provincial anonymity to international acclaim.