Russian painters underwent a period of intense development in the century following the reign of Catherine the Great. If deferential to foreign artists in the mid eighteenth century, they soon developed into a diverse, critical and ambitious profession whose members ranged from highly trained cosmopolitan celebrities to closely managed serfs. Rosalind Blakesley will track this steep trajectory with particular focus on portrait painters, and consider the ways in which their intriguing dialogue with western art coexisted with the desire to create art which was uniquely their own.
Dr Rosalind Polly Blakesley is Head of the Department of History of Art and Reader in Russian and European Art at the University of Cambridge. Her many books include The Russian Canvas: Painting in Imperial Russia, 1757-1881 (2016) and From Realism to the Silver Age: New Studies in Russian Artistic Culture (co-editor, 2014). She has also curated and written for the catalogues of several exhibitions, the latest of which, Russia and the Arts: the Age of Tolstoy and Tchaikovsky, opened at the National Portrait Gallery in 2016.