Karl Pavlovich Bryullov – the great Russian portrait painter of the XIX century
Karl Pavlovich Bryullov is an outstanding artist of the first half of the 19th century and the brightest representative of romanticism in Russian painting. Bryullov departed from the plots characteristic of academism in order to depict everyday scenes and the life of ordinary people, and not heroes. The master became famous for his paintings painted in sunny Italy, and full of psychologism for late portraits of Russian intellectuals and aristocrats.
Bryullov’s youth and trip to Italy
The artist was born in the family of the sculptor Pavel Brullo of French origin. From an early age, the father taught his sons how to draw, so Karl and his older brother Alexander (a famous Russian architect) entered the Imperial Academy of Arts without difficulty. Already during his studies, Karl showed talent, and for his final work he received a large gold medal. True, it was not without difficulties.
The president of the academy did not want to send the younger Bryullov on the trip abroad that was due to the medalists, but insisted on an additional three years of study. The young artist did not mind, but only a mediocre teacher who was not loved by students was appointed as a tutor. It was impossible to study with someone else, and Karl decided to abandon the missionary trip. Fortunately, the journey nevertheless took place and became very fruitful. It was organized by the Society for the Encouragement of Artists. When the decree on the departure of the Brullo brothers was issued, their surname was Russified.
In Italy, Karl Bryullov quickly became famous for his portraits of local and visiting Russian nobility. The Italian period in his work lasted 12 years and ended shortly after the completion of The Last Day of Pompeii. The monumental canvas made a splash, and Emperor Nicholas I called the author to his homeland.
The mature period of Bryullov’s work
In 1836, Bryullov settled in St. Petersburg and began teaching at the Academy of Arts. During this period, the painter creates an extensive portrait gallery of artists, writers, actors and politicians. An interesting story is connected with the portrait of Vasily Zhukovsky. The work was drawn specifically for drawing in the court lottery. With the proceeds of 2,500 rubles, Zhukovsky bought the serf Taras Shevchenko.
In 1848, Bryullov painted the dome of St. Isaac’s Cathedral. Hard work in a damp and cold room undermined the already poor health of the master. On the recommendation of doctors, he travels to the island of Madeira, and at the same time visits Spain and Italy. The last years the painter spent in the house of the Italian family Tittoni.
Now in their private collection there are many late watercolors and pictorial portraits by Bryullov. He died in 1852 near Rome. The artist did not have his own family and children. Known for his long-term relationship with Countess Yulia Samoilova, whom he repeatedly painted.