The unrealized concept of the interior decoration of St. Isaac's Cathedral
The creation of one of the most impressive St. Petersburg landmarks, St. Isaac’s Cathedral, is full of mysteries that visitors are hardly aware of. Travel guides often mention that the interior of the cathedral was to be decorated by such prominent masters as Karl Bryullov, Fyodor Bruni, and others. However, in the middle of the 19th century, all the paintings were replaced by mosaics by other artists, making it practically impossible to imagine what St. Isaac’s Cathedral would look like if the initial project had remained intact until the present day.
Luckily, many drawings and cartoons by Bryullov, Bruni, and other well-known artists were preserved at the Russian Museum. Enormous in size (sometimes up to 400 x 300 cm), they have never been on display in the permanent exhibition.
The exhibition at the Benois Wing presents these rare large-scale works, along with many drawings, sketches, and cartoons by K. P. Bryullov, F. A. Bruni, P. V. Basin, V. K. Shebuev, and a variety of sculptures, including those on religious subjects and sculptural portraits of the great artists who contributed to the interior décor of St. Isaac’s Cathedral.
The exhibition makes it possible to see the breathtaking project of St. Isaac’s Cathedral as it was conceived, although never realized.