In the 19th century Russian painting began to develop a unique character distinct from the influences of Western Europe. The themes expressed by Russian painters reflected their country's landscape, history, culture, and way of life. Russian artists also sought to make art available to a broader audience, not just to the wealthy. In this activity students will learn more about this pivotal period in the history of Russian art.
Students will visit the Russian Painting Web site to learn about the evolution of Russian art in the 19th century. They can browse the site and collect information concerning the different movements in Russian painting and the artists who belonged to them. Students will answer four questions and then apply what they have learned to create posters promoting an exhibition of Russian art.
- Students will be able to discuss the evolution of Russian painting in the 19th century and the historical context in which these developments took place.
- Students will be able to apply what they have learned to create posters promoting exhibitions of 19th century art.
Applied Content Standards
Standard 6: The geographically informed person knows and understands how culture and experience influence people's perceptions of places and regions.
Student Web Activity Answers
- Karl Briullov was a transitional figure between Russian neoclassicism and romanticism. His most famous painting, The Last Day of Pompeii, exemplifies many of the characteristics of romanticism, including drama, realism tempered with idealism, increased interest in nature, and a fondness for historical subjects.
- The ideological realism school developed following the emancipation of the serfs. These artists felt that art should function as an instrument of social criticism and play a role in the moral and social education of the population.
- The Slavic (or Russian) Revival movement grew out of the conflict between those who believed that Russia should define itself in Western terms and those who thought that a rediscovery of Russian heritage was best for the nation. This movement can be seen as a rejection of the policies and ideas of secularization and westernization that originated with Peter the Great.
- In 1863 the Russian Academy of Arts liberalized the rules for their annual Gold Medal competition for painting. The academy allowed each student to choose the theme for his individual entry from a list of general themes. Thirteen entrants petitioned the Academy for even more freedom—specifically, to be allowed to pick any topic, without restriction, for their painting. The petition was not only rejected, but the angered Academy assigned a specific topic, as in the past. The 13 artists refused to participate in the competition, resigned from the Academy, and formed an independent organization—the Association of Free Artists. The artists gave up their chance to win a three-year scholarship to work and study in Western Europe with all expenses paid.
- Student's posters will vary but should include historical information that reflects an understanding of the relationship of the chosen style to the cultural influences of the time and place, and biographical information on some of its major proponents.
Go To Student Web Activity