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Artistic Culture of the 19th Century, Part 1
August 29, 2014 15:14

The 19th century was the epoch of brilliant development of the Russian culture, which played the leading role in the spiritual and ethical development of the Russian society. This was the time when it gained universal popularity and greatly influenced the world cultural process. Alexander Pushkin and Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Alexander Ivanov and Ivan Repin, Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoyevsky entered the spiritual life of mankind. The famous English critic Maurice Bering wrote: “Dostoyevsky created and perceived such heights and depths of human soul that lay beyond the scope of understanding... of Shakespeare even”. Russian culture of the 19th century boggles the mind with its profound content, as well as versatile forms of its expression.

The development of social thought of Russia of the first half of the 19th century took place against the background of Russian and European events of this period: Napoleonic wars, especially the Patriotic War of 1812, the Decembrist movement, revolutions in France of 1830 and 1848, and others. There was interest in idealistic philosophy, problems of national ethos and history, and native arts. 
The year 1818 saw the publication of The History of the Russian State by N. M. Karamzin (1766 - 1826). Literary journalism was developing fast, with more than 40 new journals (including the Russian Messenger, The Bulletin of Europe, etc.), literary associations (Arzamas, Green Lamp, Free Society of Literature, Science and Art Lovers, etc.), and literature and music salons founded in the early 19th century.
A few styles coexisted in literature of that period: Classicism was still present; Nikolay Karamzin, young V. A. Zhukovsky (1783-1852), and I. I. Dmitriyev (1760 - 1837) implemented the ideas of Sentimentalism, and Romanticism was asserting itself more and more. Language disputes wer going on: Karamzin's reform aiming to pull together the literary Russian language with the spoken common language was opposed by A.S. Shishkov (1754-1841), who founded the society Colloquy of the Russian Word Lovers and stood up for protecting the language antiquity.
After Patriotic War against Napoleon of 1812 the Russian art saw the development of Romanticism. Its forefather was V. A. Zhukovsky, who created “the poetry of feeling and cordial imagination”, according to Veselovsky. K. Batyushkov (1787 - 1855), E. Baratynsky (1800 - 1844), P. Vyazemsky (1792 - 1878) and others came to Romanticism in literature. This style was most vividly embodied in works by Alexander Pushkin (1799 - 1837) (the cycle Southern Poems, The Caucasian Captive, The Fountain of Bakhchisarai, Gypsies, etc) and Mikhail Lermontov (1814 - 1841) (Demon, Masquerade, and others).
Remarkable poets of “the Pushkin pleiad” were D. Davydov (1784 - 1839), A. Delwig (1798 - 1831), V. Küchelbecker (1797 - 1846) and others. The rebellious trend of the Russian Romanticism was expressed in creativity of K. Ryleyev (1795 - 1826), A. Odoevsky (1802 - 1839), A. Bestuzhev-Marlinsky (1797 - 1837) and other Decembrist poets.
Plastic arts of the first half of the 19th century had internal unity and unique charm of humane ideals. Classicism was enriched with new features; its strengths were most clearly manifested in architecture, historical painting, and partly in sculpture. Romanticism was intensely developing along with existing Classicism. It was the heyday for all types of fine arts and their synthesis, which was embodied in development of architecture and sculpture.

Author: Vera Ivanova

Tags: Russian Culture Russian History    

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