Peter the Great and his Inner Circle

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In the most romantic and one of the most mysterious places in St Petersburg, St Michael ‘s Castle, which was constructed specially for the last knight on the Russian throne Paul I, a very special exhibition is now taking place. It is also referred to as Mikhailovsky Castle or Engineer’s Castle.

The castle is devoted to the founder of St Petersburg and one of the brightest personalities of the Russian history – Peter the Great and Inner Circle. The exhibition is reflecting the epoch which was a turning point in the history of Russian arts, the time when the Russian School of Fine Arts appeared.

Before Peter the Great there were almost no secular art schools in Russia. Icons, the images on board, which depicted saints of the Russian Orthodox Church and were used for religious worship, were widely spread, but it is hard to find any paintings in Russia before the 18th century.

It was in the time of Peter the Great when such outstanding Russian masters as Ivan Nikitin and Andrey Matveev created their most famous works. And it was under Peter the Great when the foreign masters were first invited to work in Russia for the Russian court, among them being Louis Caravaque and Johann Gottfried Tannauer.

The exhibition reveals the mastery and skills of the artists who created mainly portraits. Portraits in Russian art have never shown the personality and appearance of a person more true to life than in the 1st half of the 18th century, without flattering the model.

On display you will find such masterpieces as “Peter the Great on the deathbed.” The paintings were given for the exhibition by the Russian Museum, the Tretyakov Gallery, museums from the suburbs of St Petersburg, and different private collections.