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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 professionalization and wide-ranging activities of painters against a backdrop of dramatic social and political change. The Imperial Academy formalized 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 groundbreaking book recontextualizes 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.

‘Drawing on much original research, this study explores the transformation of Russian painting in the late 18th and 19th centuries.’ - Apollo

The Russian Canvas is the triumphant outcome of a gargantuan project. . . . Blakesley has painstakingly sifted and weighed up evidence from all available sources and has arrived at an original post-Soviet Perspective. Every page contains at least one surprise. Moreover, the book is beautifully presented and outstandingly well written. . . . This publication is a joy to read.”—Ann Kodicek, The Art Newspaper

About the author

Rosalind P. Blakesley is reader in Russian and European art at the University of Cambridge. She is a trustee of the National Portrait Gallery, London.