Episodes from the history of the Academy of Arts over 260 years
Peter the Great’s edict ordering to establish an “Academy of Fine Arts and Sciences" was issued on December 22 1724; it stated that “said Academy should see to it that fine arts and sciences become better." However, the Academy was mostly focused on academic endeavours, so much so that during the reign of Empress Elizabeth, on November 6 1757, the Senate issued a directive to create an autonomous entity, an Academy of Arts, initially established under the auspices of Moscow University: “To establish an Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg, and as for its organizational structure, the Lieutenant General and Moscow University curator Shuvalov is expected to submit to the Senate a detailed proposal and staffing chart, and<...> in response to the above-mentioned requests..> for the upkeep of teachers and students at said institution, and for meeting other needs thereof<...> appropriate from the Treasury 6,000 rubles<...> now<...> and hereafter<...>"
A favourite of Empress Elizabeth, Ivan Shuvalov (1727-1797) was a high-ranking statesman, as well as a patron and aficionado of the arts. He distinguished himself mostly in the field of education, his most noteworthy undertakings being the establishment of Moscow University and the Academy of Arts. The documents that Shuvalov drew up, “Regulations of the Academy of Arts" and the “Sixteen Founding Principles of the Imperial Academy of Arts", set out the basic principles of its existence.
Catherine the Great, who claimed she was successor not only to her “Aunt Elizaveta" but, most of all, to Peter the Great, made her own stately contribution to the development of the Academy of Arts. On November 4 1764, the Empress “granted the Academy its Charter and Privilege", which contained instructions as to the organization of the educational process, artists' education, including the ethics of conduct and rules of cohabitation for the young talents.