The State Russian Museum is located in the Mikhalovsky Palace. It is one of Rossi’s finest creations in the Empire of classical style. To gain the full effect take a turn of the entire building for it was Carlo Rossi’s intention that the palace with its magnificent central portico of eight Corinthian columns should harmonize not only with the square itself but with the gardens to the rear where a façade of even grander proportions overlooks the gentle waters of the Moyka.
The Mikhailovsky palace resembles a traditional suburban estate. In front of it lies a formal courtyard limited by a cast-iron railing. Beyond the palace there is a garden.
The History of the Place
The museum began life as the Mikhailovskiy Palace, home of the grand Duke Mikhail Pavlovich, brother of Alexander I and Nicholas I.
In 1895 the Mikhailovsky Palace was purchased by the state to house the first state museum of national art established by Emperor Nicholas II in honor of his father Alexander III.
On 13 April 1895 Emperor Nicholas II signed Imperial Decree “On the foundation of the special establishment called “The Russian Museum of Emperor Alexander III” (the father of Nicholas II whose aim was to glorify in the Russian Empire its national rich culture instead of imitating European style).
In the reign of Alexander III the country returned to the former ideals of patriotism and national spirit. The prestige of Russia in Europe under him was high, calm and order reigned in the state. Russia was not engaged in any war and therefore Alexander III went to the Russian history as the Tsar-Peacemaker.
Three years later the doors of the Mikhailovsky Palace in St Petersburg were opened to visitors to the first state museum of national fine arts in Russia.
What You will See on the State Russian Museum Tour
- The Russian Museum has housed a significant collection of early Russian artworks. These include such priceless icons as “The Angel with Colden Hair and “St George and the Dragon”. The paintings accumulated in the Russian museum were taken from the academy of Arts, the Hermitage and other places collections.
- Apart from paintings you can enjoy the interiors of some State Rooms of the palace. The most interesting room is the White Hall where not only the colorful murals but also the furniture designed by Rossi have been preserved.
- The Russian Museum has owned a representative collection of paintings by Karl Briullov. His canvass “The Last Day of Pompeii’ has taken the pride of place among his works. The artist created The Last Day of Pompeii treating an episode from ancient history as a subject for thoughts about the contemporary world.
- A notable place among the works belongs to canvasses by the unusually prolific painter Ivan Aivazovsky invluding his most celebrated seascape “The Ninth Wave”. His romantic perception and delight of the ever changing sea elements reached a mature expression in the middle of the 19th century when the artist won European renown.
- Very richly represented in the museum are works by masters of portraiture. A notable portrait by Valentin Serov depicts Feliz Yusupov, who belonged to one of the wealthiest families of Russia and was engaged into the conspiracy against Nicholas II’s favorite - Grigory Rasputin in 1916 whose death put an end to the Russian House of Romanovs.
- The germs of the collection are canvasses by Ivan Kramskoy, Nikolai Gay, Ivan Shishkin, Vasily Surikov, Boris Kustodiev and Mikhail Vrubel.
- One of the most popular figures among the Russian artists of the late 19th- early 20th century was Ilya Repin. His art is represented in the Russian museum by many works from various periods beginning with his earliest essays as an artist. One of the greatest achievements of his artistic career is the picture “The Zaporozhye Cossacks” painted between 1880 and 1891.
- The museum owns the world’s best collection of works by the Russian avantgarde artists including such internationally acclaimed painters as Wassily Kandinsky, Kasimir Malevich and Pavel Filonov.