Andrei Efimovich Martynov, 1768-1826
- Andrei Efimovich Martynov
- View over the great lake and the Cameron gallery, tsarskoe Selo
- signed with artist's monogram and dated 1815 l.l.
- oil on canvas
- 66 by 81cm., 26 by 32in.
The subject of the present oil painting is taken from one of Martynov's most celebrated series of landscapes, 'St Petersburg and its Environs', which consists of fifty watercolours, several now owned by the Tretyakov Gallery. He produced them at a period when there was a vogue in both art and literature for celebrating man's ability to improve nature, as exemplified in neo-classical panoramas. In 1815 the writer Batiushkov had published one of his most famous works, 'A short walk through the Academy of Arts', which laments the preference of Russian artists for 'dilapidated Paris and smoky London' to their native cities: 'Often I have watched with regret as they labour over the hot sky of Naples in the midst of a stinging frost, tormenting their imagination - and often our eyes'. Although Martynov had followed this well-trodden route to Italy where he studied for six years, he returned to Russia in 1794; the landscapes he produced between 1804 and 1810 of southern Russia, Mongolia and the Baltic regions remain some of his best. He was also one of the first Russian artists to master the technique of lithography, a media only recently developed in Bavaria.
The Neo-Palladian Cameron Gallery depicted in the background of this picture was designed by the Scottish architect, Charles Cameron, towards the end of Catherine II's reign. The Catherine Palace was first built in 1717 by a German architect engaged by Catherine I, though subsequent empresses demolished and expanded the building to such a degree that in her memoirs Catherine II called it 'the work of Penelope: what was done today, was destroyed tomorrow'.