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Karl Brullov (1799-1852)

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Karl Brullov - famous Russian painter

When Brullov was born in 1799, the Neo-classical style in Russia still reigned, but the period of its greatest productivity and popularity was over. Perhaps this influenced Brullov's early distaste for the return to classicism; at any rate, despite his education at the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts (1809-1821), Brullov never fully embraced the style taught by the Academy.

After distinguishing himself as a promising and imaginative student and finishing his education, he left Russia for Rome. Here he worked until 1835 as a portraitist and genre painter, though his fame as an artist came when he got involved in historical painting. His most famous work, The Last Day of Pompeii (1830-1833), created a sensation in Italy and established Brullov as one of the finest painters of his day.

Soon after The Last Day of Pompeii, Brullov returned to Russia, where he was joyously received. While teaching at the Academy (1836-1848) he continued his own artistic efforts, but was unable to produce a work comparable to his "masterpiece."

His portrait painting, however, was more successful, at least in retrospect. His portrait style combined a neo-classical simplicity with a romantic tendency that fused well, and his penchant for realism was satisfied with an intriguing level of psychological penetration.

A transitional figure between Russian neo-classicism and romanticism, Brullov may be considered the first Russian artist of international fame.

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