Bruni, Fedor Antonovich
(proper name, Fidelio Bruni). Born June 10, 1799, in Milan; died Aug. 30 (Sept. 11), 1875, in St. Petersburg. Russian artist of Italian origin.
Bruni studied at the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts from 1809 to 1818 under A. I. Ivanov, A. E. Egorov, and V. K. Shebuev. From 1818 to 1836 and from 1838 to 1841 he worked in Italy. Bruni was a professor (from 1836) and rector (1855-71) at the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts. During the 1820’s, Bruni strove in certain works to fill the conventional forms of academic art with civic feeling and romantic emotionality (for example, The Death of Camilla, Sister of Horace, 1824, Russian Museum, Leningrad; and drawings for the album Sketches of Events from Russian History..., published in 1839). The best of Bruni’s few portraits—the romantic portrait of Z. A. Volkonskaia dressed as Tancrede (1820, Russian Museum)—belongs to this period. At this time Bruni also worked on intimately lyrical scenes utilizing classical subjects (for example, The Awakening of the Graces, 1827, Tret’iakov Gallery). Beginning in the 1830’s, Bruni became a representative of the most conservative tendencies of romanticism in Russian painting, which in his creative work took on religious-mystical overtones. Bruni’s huge canvas on a biblical subject The Bronze Serpent (1827-41, Russian Museum) is marked by an ominous fatality of the depicted event. Bruni drew 35 preliminary sketches for the paintings of St. Isaac’s Cathedral in Leningrad (1841-45, Russian Museum). From the end of the 1840’s he was the head of Russian academicism. As rector and professor of the Academy of Arts, Bruni took extremely reactionary positions.