The urgent need for historical paintings, which might serve the cause of national enlightenment and progress appeared in the 18th century in Russia. At that time we had no museums, exhibitions or other artistic institutions of public character. Dreaming of creating major nationwide secular art in the country, M. Lomonosov decided to decorate the interior of the Peter and Paul Cathedral--where Peter the Great is buried--with monumental mosaic pictures that were to represent the most important events of new Russian history. Hardly any other exhibition space for the mosaics, where public at large could see them, was available at that time.
The monumental scale of the mosaic "The Battle of Poltava", which survived to the present day (USSR Academy of Sciences, Leningrad, now RAS, St. Petersburg), richness of its colors with somewhat simplistic drawing, exemplifies the skill of Lomonosov and his assistants as mosaic artists. The remarkable portraits of Peter I and B. Sheremetev, based on their lifetime portraits, are impressive in their power of characters and completeness of plastic forms. The patriot scientist was eager to employ the stained glass he had invented for bold artistic innovation.
Moreover, he was perfectly aware of professional points required for monumental mosaics: for instance, the necessity of laying big decorative tiles. Lomonosov's experiments to revive the art of mosaic did not gain any support. The art of Russian mosaic was truly reborn only in our times.
In his work Ideas for Picturesque Drawings Based on Russian History, Lomonosov proposed a specific program aimed at creation of a new secular art in Russia, suggesting a number of subjects drawn from chronicles, historical works and literature. It was a call to Russian painters to reveal heroic and patriotic themes of national history, a call for artistic originality and progress. The program of the new Russian art, outlined by Lomonosov, went beyond traditional ... Читать далее