Урок 2: Visual and Cultural Literacy
1. ИЗВЕСТНЫЕ МЕСТА
The Winter Palace (Зимний дворец) is
perhaps the most famous building in St.
Petersburg. It served until the Russian
revolution in 1917 as the main residence of
the royal family. It is now part of the
Hermitage museum, which houses one of the
world’s greatest art collections.
Built during the reign of the Empress Elizabeth in
the middle of the 18th
century, the Winter Palace
reflects the “baroque” style popular at that time.
Its architect, Rastrelli, designed many other
buildings in and around St. Petersburg.
The Winter Palace is located on Palace Square (Дворцовая площадь),
across from the General Staff building (Главный штаб). In the center of
the square stands the Alexander Column (Александровская колонна),
which was erected by Tsar Nicholas I to commemorate the defeat of
Napoleon in 1812 during the reign of his brother, Alexander I.
Вот Зимний дворец
в Санкт Петербурге.
В Зимнем дворце
жили цари и их
Эрмитаж. В нём
2. Известные русские: Пётр Первый (Великий) и
Екатерина Вторая (Великая)
Пётр I ruled Russia from 1682 until his death in
1725, though for the first fourteen of those years
he co-reigned with his half-brother, Иван V.
Peter’s reign is significant for many reasons, not
the least of which is that it resulted in the
introduction of many reforms aimed at
“Westernizing” Russia. Peter’s goal was to bring
Russian traditions and practices more into
alignment with European culture, but many of
them, including the demand that men cut off
their beards or pay a beard tax, met with
resistance, as we can see in this “lubok” (лубок),
a type of woodcut popular at the time.
Peter also, of course, founded St.
Petersburg in 1703 on the banks of
the Neva River (река Нева), intending
it to serve as “a window to Europe”
(окно в Европу), and he moved the
capital there from Moscow in 1712.
Like many other events from his life, it
became a popular subject of Russian
A. G. Venetsianov, “Peter the
Great. The Founding of Saint
Petersburg” (А. Г.
Венецианов, «Петр Великий.
V. A. Serov, “Peter I” (В. А. Серов,
«Пётр I», 1907
Catherine II, or “the Great” (Екатерина Великая), ruled Russia from 1762-1796.
Catherine was not Russian—she was a German princess named Sophie and married
into the Russian royal family. Her husband, Peter III, was deposed and assassinated
within six months of assuming the throne; most historians believe that Catherine
knew about and condoned his arrest and murder. Catherine succeeded her husband
and ruled as Empress until her death.
Catherine’s reign marks the height
of the Enlightenment in Russia.
She continued the Westernization
of Russian culture—at least in the
upper ranks of society—and was a
strong advocate of the arts. It was
Catherine who founded the
Hermitage museum in 1764.
Peter and Catherine
impersonators can be
found in several of the
tourist sites in St.
Petersburg, and they
are always eager to
have their photo taken
with you (for a fee!).
3. ИЗВЕСТНЫЕ ХУДОЖНИКИ И ИХ КАРТИНЫ
Василий Иванович Суриков was one of the most
significant painters from the second half of the
nineteenth century. As a member of the Society for
Traveling Art Exhibits—often referred to as the
Wanderers (in Russian, Передвижники)—he is best
known for his large canvases depicting scenes from
Russian history. Though a diverse group, the
Передвижники were united by their goal of painting in
a realistic style subjects from Russian life—its customs,
culture, history, and social reality, both good and bad.
В. И. Суриков
This is one of Surikov’s most famous pieces—“The Morning of the Execution of the
Streltsy” (Утро стрелецкой казни, 1881). Тhe streltsy (стрельцы) were a corps of armed
guards who served the tsar in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, but were also
notoriously unruly as a class. By the end of the seventeenth and early eighteenth
centuries, they were often involved in uprisings. The target of their discontent in this
painting is on horseback on the right side—can you recognize him? You should also, of
course, recognize the building in the background.
Completed in 1887, “The Boyarynya Morozova” (Боярыня Морозова) is another of Surikov’s
most famous works. It depicts a scene from the religious schism (раскол) that took place in
Russia in the middle of the seventeenth century when the Patriarch Nikon, with the approval
of Tsar Aleksey Mikhailovich (the father of Peter I), introduced reforms that were intended
to bring Russian Orthodox rituals and texts into alignment with those of the Greek Orthodox
church. One of those reforms called for a change in the way believers crossed themselves—
using three fingers instead of two. Note that the Old Believer Morozova, who is being carted
away to be imprisoned and tortured for refusing to comply with the new practices, is
defiantly holding up two fingers (as is the “holy fool”—юродовый—in the lower right corner
of the canvas).
“Suvorov’s Crossing the Alps” (Переход Суворова
через Альпы), 1899
“Menshikov at Beryozovo” (Меншиков в
This painting depicts the fate of Aleksandr Menshikov, Peter
the Great’s friend, who (along with his family) was banished
to Siberia under Peter II for political intrigues.
“Yermak’s Conquest of
Сибири Ермаком), 1895
“The Capture of the Snow Fortress”
(Взятие снежного городка), 1891
4. КУЛЬТУРНЫЕ ИДИОМЫ: МЕДНЫЙ ВСАДНИК
Falconet’s equestrian statue of Peter
the Great, more commonly known
as the Bronze Horseman (Медный
всадник), is a well-known sight on
the banks of the Neva River in St.
Petersburg. The monument was
commissioned by Catherine the
Great in honor of Peter, the city’s
founder; the monument’s large
stone base is inscribed on both sides
—one in Latin, one in Russian—with
the words “Catherine the Second to
Peter the First” («Петру первому
Екатерина вторая»). The
monument acquired its nickname,
Медный всадник, from a narrative
poem written by Pushkin in 1833.
This painting by
Суриков gives us a
sense of what the
monument looked like
in the late nineteenth
century. You can see
St. Isaac’s Cathedral
собор) in the
monument is located
on Senate Square
which is where the
revolt took place in