Mikhail Lomonosov and the Time of Elizabeth
In November 2011 we celebrate the 300th anniversary of the birth of the great Russian scientist/encyclopedian Mikhail Vasilyevich Lomonosov. In the gala halls of the Winter Palace, where the entrance is decorated with a cartouche bearing the monogram “EI”, a large exhibit, entitled “Mikhail Lomonosov and the Time of Elizabeth I” has been prepared for this jubilee date. It includes more than 700 exhibit pieces from the collection of the State Hermitage Museum, and also from other museums, archives and libraries in Petersburg. This exposition is distinguished by the meticulously detailed selection of works that will make it possible to look at the Time of Elizabeth of Russia, in which Lomonosov’s genius shined so brightly, from every angle.
During the twenty years of Elizabeth’s reign, Russia achieved several victories in the international arena, its internal market was strengthened and “arts and sciences” experienced a period of progress. A close link between science and life contributed, in many ways, to Elizabeth I’s successful governance. More and more often, the work that scientists did had practical applications, and reformed education systems stimulated the developed of Enlightenment ideas throughout Russia. She was truly her great father’s daughter, and was able to value people not so much for their noble status or wealth, as for their natural talent, astuteness and initiative. One example of this was her unfailing favour to Mikhail Lomonosov, which made it possible for his talents to be fully expressed. Elizabeth Petrovna not only approved a great many of the scientist’s undertakings, but also regularly increased his social status. In 1751, he was granted the title of Collegiate Counsellor, including the rights of hereditary nobility. Throughout his entire artistic life, Mikhail Lomonosov enjoyed the sincere support of such titled and educated contemporaries as Count Mikhail Vorontsov, Count Pyotr Shuvalov, Ivan Shuvalov, all of whom belong to the Empress’ inner circle.
Lomonosov returned to Petersburg after studying abroad on the even of
important historical changes; on November 25th, 1741, as a result of a
palace revolution, Elizabeth came to power. In January of 1742, Mikhail
Lomonosov was appointed “adjunct of the school of physics” of the Academy
of Sciences. In
In July 1745, Elizabeth signed an order granting Lomonosov the title
of professor. In 1748, the tsarina granted him
In January 1755, the project developed jointly by Ivan Shuvalov and Mikhail
The engravers and draftsmen of the Academy of Sciences illustrated books and catalogues, traced geographical and astronomical maps, created portraits of their contemporaries, panoramic views of the city and its individual structures. The multifaceted nature of the work of the artistic chambers and the growth of their creative plans provoked great protests among many scientists. One of the most active proponents of dividing the “sciences” from the “arts” was Mikhail Lomonosov. Ivan Shuvalov supported Lomonosov’s opinion, since he was disturbed by the fact that the majority of painters in Russia were visiting foreigners.
In Fall of 1757, the Academy of the “Three Noble
In 1763, Mikhail Lomonosov was named as an honorary member of the Academy of Arts for his achievements in the mosaic arts. The creation of mosaic production was the result of hundreds of experiments by Lomonosov in the chemistry laboratory built according to his design. In March of 1753, an order was signed granting Lomonosov nine thousand desyatinas of land in the Koporsky Province for the creation of a factory for the production of multicoloured glass, beads and glass beads. Ground was broken for the new factory in May, in the village of Ust-Ruditza, and in a few years, the first mosaic products were already appearing. Throughout the factory’s existence, at least forty mosaic products were produced, in Lomonosov’s workshop, about half of which have been preserved.
Another important type of production was set in motion during the reign
of Elizabeth Petrovna; the first porcelain factory in Russia was built.
The discovery of the secret of precious porcelain is attributed to Dmitry
Vinogradov, Lomonosov’s friend and ally. In documents from 1740’s, list
of the factory’s production includes buttons, Easter eggs, heads for canes,
e'pe'e grips, chimes, handles for forks and knives, little cups, sculpted
figures, candlesticks, etc., but the majority of notes are about various
kinds of snuff boxes. The Empress, who loved to give snuff boxes to members
of her court, particularly liked boxes shaped like postal envelopes, which
demonstrated the exceptional quality of snow-white Russian porcelain.
Following the appearance of large firing furnaces in 1756, they began
to produce even larger items. The first palace service, consisting of
Various successes in the field of science, art and industry were reflected in the glamour and luxury of court life. The reign of Elizabeth is associated with the heyday of the baroque style; its splendour expressed the idea of the might of absolute monarchical authority. The decoration of state apartments began almost at the same time as the construction of the building itself. Various arts and industries, stimulated by the nobility’s demand for luxurious items, flourished in Russia.
The construction of churches also developed on an unprecedented scale
during the reign of Elizabeth, who did a great deal to strengthen the
Orthodox faith among her subjects. The ensemble of the Smolny Cathedral,
St. Nicholas Naval Cathedral, and the Alexander Nevsky Lavra, where the
relics of Saint Alexander Nevsky, whom Peter the Great considered the
city’s patron, became famous monuments. Elizabeth I ordered the creation
of a magnificent marker above the grave of Alexander Nevsky. The glorious
shrine now being exhibited in the Concert Hall of the Winter Palace, consists
of a sarcophagus, two pedestals with trophies of war and a many-layered
pyramid, crowned with a decorative “halo”. This composition was made of
pure silver, discovered in the mines of Altai near Lake Kolyvan in 1740s.
The reliquary was created in
The curator of the exhibition is Natalia Yuryevna Guseva, Lead Researcher of the Department of Russian Culture.
The Editing and Publishing Department of the State Hermitage Museum has prepared an illustrated academic catalogue entitled “Mikhail Lomonosov and the Time of Elizabeth I” and a popular academic text, also entitled “Mikhail Lomonosov and the Time of Elizabeth I”.
At the Press Conference