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The Academy of Arts

The building of the Academy of Arts on the Vasilyevsky Island Embankment, the construction of which began in 1765, was intended for the three main arts – painting, sculpture and architecture. Copies of the ancient statues of Hercules and Flora over the entrance and the shape of the building itself remind us of the two styles, Baroque and Classicism, predominant in St Petersburg architecture in that period. The project of the building was designed by Jean-Baptiste Vallin de La Mothe, invited from France in 1759, and the Russian architect Alexander Kokorinov (they are regarded as founders of Classicism in Russian architecture). A transition from one style to the other reflects the changes that took place in society.

The University Embankment. The Academy of Arts. 1764-88. Architects: Jean-Baptiste Vallin de la Mothe, Alexander Kokorinov

The Academy of Arts
In keeping with the demands of the day, the Academy of Arts evolved a new system of the artistic perception of the world, when colour, light, composition and perspective were used to explore and render the unshakable laws of the universe. The model works by masters of the brush and chisel trained within the walls of the Academy, remained in it as model pieces to be followed. As a result a large museum of first-rate works of painting, sculpture, graphic art, as well as of architectural models and projects, was formed that ranks with the best art collections of Russia. Later many of these works were transferred to the Hermitage, the Russian Museum and the Tretyakov Gallery, but the Academy has retained the museum illustrating its history. Next to the Academy, at the granite embankment near a descent to the Neva, one can see the sphinxes brought from the ancient Thebes in Egypt.

The landing-stage with sphinxes near the Academy of Arts. 1832-34. Architect: Koxstaxtin Thox


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