Catch up on our first lecture recording release of the new year! On Saturday, January 15th Dr. Margaret Samu presented “A Russian Masterpiece in Paris: Karl Briullov’s Last Day of Pompeii at the 1834 Salon.” This presentation was a part of the Russian History Museum’s larger Second Saturday series.

Dr. Samu’s presentation guided the audience through a visual analysis and contextual journey through how and why Briullov’s painting garnered criticism and fame. Her talk considered the painting’s unique elements and composition while balancing art critics’ feedback.

Much to the audience’s delight, our presenter shared previously unreleased documents from newspaper reviews and a newly uncovered archive of letters between Count Anatolii Demidov and the Salon’s organizers. Through this research, Dr. Samu showed that the painting’s reception in Paris was shaped by new ideas about history painting in France, thus changing international political dynamics in the 1830s and misinformation about Briullov himself.

Following her lecture, Samu answered audience inquiries. Some questions covered Briullov’s influences as an artist, enduring legacy, and ties to Russian/French identity.

The Second Saturday lecture series is supported in part with federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds allocated to the New York State Library by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

About the Speaker

Margaret Samu works on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Russian art and design in a global context, with an emphasis on reception, collecting, and the art market. She teaches at The New School’s Parsons School of Design in New York City. Her work has been published in journals such as The Art Bulletin, Iskusstvoznanie, Nineteenth-Century Studies, and Experiment, as well as a volume she co-edited, From Realism to the Silver Age (NIU Press, 2014). She is currently working on a book project titled Russian Venus: The Female Nude in the Art World of Imperial Russia.