Feodor Solntsev (1801-1892) – a painter, a professor of the Saint Petersburg Academy of Arts, an archeologist and an expert in Russian antiquities, painted more then 7000 water-colour pictures.


Born in the village Verkhneye-Nikulskoye of the Mologa Uyezd of the Yaroslavl Region.


Head of restoration of the Tsar Tower-Chambers in Moscow (The Terem Palace. In the 1830-ies F. Solntsev restored the rooms in the style of the 17th century) and the Kiev St. Sofia Cathedral (Sofiiskyi sobor, Kiev). In the 19th century an exonarthex was added to the cathedral to replace the collapsed western gallery. In the mid-19th century F. Solntsev undertook the first exact survey of the cathedral).


For many years F. Solntsev has been painting the Russian antiquities (about 5000 water-coloured paintings). More than 5 hundred works were lithographed and published in 1849-1853 in 600 hundred copies. “Antiquities of the Russian State” is the name of this expensive monumental edition, the pride of the largest libraries and book-depositaries of the world, for example the New York Public Library. The biggest authorial collection including over 1400 artworks is the collection of water-colours and drawings of antiquities of the Russian State, created by F.G. Solntsev, a painter and archaeologist, in 1830-1840.



Museum of F. Solntsev in the village Borok of the Nekouz Distinct of the Yaroslavl Region - http://ibiw.ru/win/collect.htm


Photo gallery of the New York Public Library, 570 artworks from the “Antiquities of the Russian State” of F. Solntsev.




In the Rybinsk State History, Architecture and Art Museum an exhibition “Antiquities of the Russian State in Creative Work of Feodor Solntsev” is open from April 23 to May 20, 2001. This exposition is dated to the 200-anniversary of the academician of painting, artist and archaeologist, restorer and researcher of the Old Russian Art Feodor Grigoryevich Solntsev (1801-1892). The Museum-Preserve “The Moscow Kremlin” has prepared this exhibition and presented more than 50 unique water-colour pictures and drawings of F.G. Solntsev. Works created by Solntsev in 1830-40-ies are on the display. They all show his interest in artistic archaeology, that means establishment, copying of the ancient monuments of the Old Russian architecture, iconography, church plates, articles of old-time life, ancient armoury, costumes, hand-written books and so on. The main part of the displayed illustrations of the Russian antiquities is items kept in the collection of the Museum-Treasury of the Armoury Chamber and in the Kremlin Cathedrals. The F. Solntsev’s creative heritage contains many artworks that today are the sole eyewitnesses of the lost monuments of the past. The anniversary exhibition of F.G. Solntsev shows specialists and visitors only a small, but still ponderable part of the richest artistic heritage of the artist-archaeologist, who dedicated his selfless work to research, study and preservation of memorials of native history and culture.


Feodor Grigoryevich Solntsev (1801-1892 ses) -– painter, professor of the Saint Petersburg Academy of Arts, painted more then 7000 water-colour pictures;


And yet, by the beginning of the nineteenth century, expeditions to the Russian countryside sought the artifacts of that history. In the 1830-ies the Academy of Arts, a bastion of European training, had commissioned a survey of pre-Petrine monuments to be compiled by the artist Feodor Solntsev (1801-1892), whose work played an important role in publicizing of early Russian architecture (http://www.cultinfo.ru/brumfield/articles/001.htm).


Site of the New York Public Library, photo gallery

http://digitalgallery.nypl.org/nypldigital/dgkeysearchresult.cfm?word=19716&s=1&notword=&f=13&sScope=Name&sLabel=Solntsev%2C%20F%2EG%2E%20%28Fedor%20Grigorevich%29&cols=4 – 570 artworks from the “Antiquities of the Russian State” of F. Solntsev


Site of the Moscow Kremlin (English version)

http://www.caroun.com/Countries/Europe/Russia/Kremlin/17-Kremlin-GreatKremlinPalace.html – Restorations of F. Solntsev


Collections of the Kremlin (English version) - http://www.kremlin.museum.ru/en/main/collection/museum/graphic/ – The collection of graphics of the State Historical and Cultural Museum-Preserve “The Moscow Kremlin” is tightly connected with the history of the Moscow Kremlin, its monuments, architectural buildings and exhibits reserved inside the Kremlin’s walls. The graphic fund is very young. In 1961, it became a part of the science archive, which, besides documents, included architectural graphics and depictive materials made on the basis of paper. At the moment, the collection of graphics numbers more than 5,000 items dated from the 17th to the 90-ies of the 20th century. The composition of the collection is characterized by wideness and variety of materials. These are drawings, water-colour sketches, drafts, gravures and lithographs. Among them the views of the Moscow Kremlin and images of its numerous monuments are prevalent. The biggest authorial collection including over 1,400 artworks is the collection of water-colours and drawings of antiquities of the Russian State, created by F.G. Solntsev, a painter and archaeologist, in 1830-1840.


SOLNTSEV FEODOR GRIGORYEVICH 1801-1892. Archaeologist and painter, Academician of Painting. Born in the village Verkhneye-Nikulskoye of the Mologa Uyezd (near the modern village Borok of the Nekouz District of the Yaroslavl Region). Studied in the Saint Petersburg Arts Academy. Solntsev participated in decoration of the Great Kremlin Palace. In particular he worked on sketches of parquet floors, doors, carpets, plaster bas-reliefs, lamps and decorations for fireplaces. He restored tsar’s tower chambers in the Moscow Kremlin, in 1843-1853 worked in Kiev, discovered frescoes of the 11th century in the Kiev St. Sophia Cathedral and participated in their restoration.


Reference to the Museum of F. Solntsev in the village Borok of the Nekouz District of the Yaroslavl Region - http://ibiw.ru/win/collect.htm


At the instance of and under the patronage of the President of the Arts Academy A.N. Olenin Feodor Solntsev started his longstanding work – picturing of the Russian antiquities: architectural monuments, tsars’ and church plates, items of old life, princes’ clothes and people’s local costumes. He visited more than 30 towns, many villages and monasteries. As a result he created more than 5 thousand water-colour drawings. More than 500 of them were lithographed and published in 1849-1853 in 600 copies. “Antiquities of the Russian State” is the name of this expensive monumental edition, the pride of many largest libraries and book-depositories of the world; for example of the New York Public Library (read about that in the magazine “Our Heritage”, N 6-1989). Many originals, painted by Solntsev are long gone, and only these accurate and highly artistic “copies” are left.


F.G. Solntsev together with the architect K.A. Ton have created in the middle of the 19th century one of the most beautiful works of the Russian architecture, which decorated the ancient ensemble of the Moscow Kremlin – the Great Kremlin Palace, which today holds state receptions, rewarding ceremonies of the outstanding peoples of our country, signing of international treaties, handing of credentials to the President of the Russian Federation by foreign ambassadors. Inner appointments of about 7 hundred chambers of the palace, which amuse and delight us even today in the 21st century, were created according to drawings and sketches of F.G. Solntsev.


And this is just one of the creative achievements of the painter. And he also worked at the Aleksander Column, wall-paintings in the Kazan and Isaac Cathedrals in Saint-Petersburg, frescoes and mosaics in the ancient St. Sophia Cathedral in Kiev, discovery and restoration of frescoes painted by Andrey Rublev in Vladimir, creation of more than 200 (!) icon-screens for Orthodox churches. Specialists regard him one of founders of the Russian style in architecture, this style is represented by the Historical Museum on the Red Square, the Trade Rows (GUM) and the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour and other wonderful architectural constructions all over the country.


His contacts with A.S. Pushkin, I.A. Krylov, M.I. Glinka, friendship and cooperation with A.N. Olenin, K.P. Bryullov, and K.A. Ton show F.G. Solntsev as an interesting and creative person. He was an artist of the Resurrection scale, one of the key figures of the “Golden Age” of the Russian culture.


Son of a serf, F.G. Solntsev, having become academician and professor, taught peasant children in the Arts Academy. Feodor Grigoryevich has dedicated his talent and will to glorification of the Russian art.


That is why the Museum of F. Solntsev was established in Borok. Members of all three conferences dedicated to F.G. Solntsev (Saint- Petersburg 2001, Rybinsk 2001, Borok 2002) have been unanimous about its location.


During preparation of the museum collection earlier unknown archive documents and unique graphic materials were discovered; they formed the main concept of the book about the painter, realized by the Museum worker Alla Nikolayevna Putintseva.


The Institute of Inner Water Biology of the Russian Science Academy (RAN) provided two large rooms in the modern building in the center of the village Borok. The exposition contains drawings of F. Solntsev, biographic materials, views of his native village and books with his artworks, items of peasant life. The second room was symbolically named “Olenins’ Drawing-room”. After having examined many interiors of the 19th century, furniture, curtains, lamps, mirrors, prints found their places in the room. Some items were gifts from the Borok dwellers. (Based on materials of Zakharova T.G. and Putintseva A.N.)


Works of Feodor Solntsev are often called “pictorial chronicles of the Old Rus” and are considered to be the source of the native style resurrection. The Russian science owes to Feodor Grigoryevich Solntsev preservation of many precious materials of the native history. Up to now he is the most prominent representative of the artistic archaeology and ethnography. Edition of “The Antiquities of the Russian State” contains more than 500 sheets of coloured chromolithographs of cultural memorials, made from the pictures of F.G Solntsev and six books of written printed material.


Solntsev (Feodor Grigoryevich) – painter and archaeologist (1801-1892). His father, a serf of the Count Musin-Pushkin, made his son student of the Arts Academy (in 1815). Here S. soon showed his remarkable success in painting, under the direction of S. Shchukin and A. Egorov. After graduation of the academic course in 1824 he received the small golden medal for the picture “The Peasant Family”, and in 1827 the big golden medal for the picture “Give therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s”. After that S. left the Academy and for some time gave painting lessons, painted portraits to earn his living. The President of the Academy of that time A. Olenin directed S. to the path Soltsev then became famous on. Thanks to Olenin S. became an archaeologist-painter and chained himself to researches and depicting of different antiquities memorials for the rest of his life. In 1830 by imperial command he turned to Moscow and other places of the Empire “to depict our old customs, costumes, armoury, church and tsars’ plates, belongings, harnesses and other items”. S. accurately depicted in water-colour every ancient item, possessing of some historical meaning, and sent all his paintings to Olenin, who was constantly in charge of S.’ works (especially during the first years) and gave him detailed instructions.


For his prominent works S. was ranked among the members of the Academy and His Majesty Cabinet. Ever since S. visited many ancient towns of Russia with the goal of depicting native antiquities there. Until to 1836 he worked in Novgorod, Ryazan, Moscow, Torzhok and other towns; in Moscow he worked in the Armoury Chamber, cathedrals of the Assumption and Archangelsk and other places. While depicting and researching tsar’s plates, he discovered that the so-called Crown and Neckpiece of Monomakh were created during the reign of tsar Mikhail Feodorovich in Greece. Besides he visited Ryazan, Smolensk, Yuryev-Polskiy and other towns. At the end of 1835 he received the program of the Academy to become its academician: to picture a painting “Meeting of the Grand Prince Svyatoslav with John Tzimiskes”. After a year of work the picture was ready (it is now displayed in the Museum of Aleksandr the III) and Solntsev became academician. Almost at the same time S. was engaged in restoration of the ancient tsars’ tower chambers in the Kremlin, created projects of their restoration and by the end of 1836 tower chambers were restored.


Emperor Nikolay, who undoubtedly believed in Solntsev’s knowledge, entrusted him to depict many items kept in the Armoury Chamber and in the Cathedral of the Annunciation. No one of the enormous quantity of Solntsev’s pictures – and there are more than 3,000 of them – escaped the Emperor’s eye. Engaged with the Emperor’s errand S. discovered that the so-called Astrakhan Kingdom Crown was created during the times of Mikhail Feodorovich, and the Siberia Crown – under Aleksey Mikhailovich. In the period of 1837-1843 S. worked mostly in Moscow, but found time to visit other ancient towns. At the same time he participated in construction of the Moscow Large Palace, built on the place of the former one, burnt in 1812. After the death of Olenin in 1843, the Emperor himself directed S. and sent him to Kiev to depict and restore antiquities there. Here started the new stage of Solntsev’s carrier that continued more than 10 years. During summer he worked in Kiev, in winter he moved to Saint Petersburg, brought with him 80-100 pictures to show them to the Emperor. When examining the St. Sophia Cathedral in Kiev S. discovered wall frescoes of the 11th century there. He did not confine himself to this really important discovery and by the Emperor’s command started restoration of the interior of the named cathedral to preserve it in the state it had been since the beginning, and finished this work in 1851. Moreover, S. depicted view of different churches, pictured interiors of the Cathedral of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, participated in the Temporary Committee for Analysis of the ancient acts of the Southwest Russia, established in 1844, and became member of the Committee for publication of his own pictures. Publication continued from 1846 to 1853 and contained 6 huge volumes of “The Antiquities of the Russian State”, where most of the pictures (up to 700) belonged to Solntsev himself.


The Crimean War, death of the Emperor Nikolay I and beginning of the reform era under his successor on the thrown – that all moved Solntsev with his work aside. Nevertheless, since 1853 he worked for the Saint Petersburg Isaac Cathedral, executed orders of the Holy Synod – for example, pictured corporals, saints for placement in prayer books, church calendars and so on; during 8 years he was in charge of works of icon-screens creation for the western regions. In 1859 S. again participated in business missions (e.g. to Vladimir on Klyazma) and became member of the Imperial Archaeological Expedition. In view of his services the Arts Academy awarded him with a title of the Academy’s Honoured Free Member in 1863. In 1876 the ceremonial celebration of the 50th anniversary of Solntsev took place, he received the golden medal struck in his honour and became professor. Not possessing of a brilliant artistic talent, Solntsev nevertheless was an outstanding person in the history of the Russian art with his indefatigable work in the field of research of artistic memorials of the Russian olden times: he produced innumerable pictures of different antiquities of Russia, many of which were later published and became essential part of the Russian archaeology. Pictures of now mostly lost costumes of common people of different regions of Russia are also very interesting; Solntsev examined them and carefully reproduced during his travels. He also has done much for the Russian iconography, ornament decoration of buildings and items, mostly church plates. Compare N. Sobko “F.G. Solntsev and his painting and archaeological activity” (“Fine Arts Bulletin”, v. I, p. 471); “My life and painting and archaeological work”, story by F.G.S. (“The Russian Antiquity”, 1876, N. 1, 2, 3, 5, 6); F. Bulgakov “Our painters” (v. II, Saint Petersburg, 1890). E. Tarasov.


Davis R.H. (Junior) Russian water-colour painting in New York / Robert H. Davis Junior, Edward Kasinec // Our Heritage 1989. – N 6 (12). – P. 40-41: Figure.

About the collection of more than 300 original water-colour paintings (1820-1840), fulfilled by Painting Academician F.G. Solntsev (1801-1892), Costumes of the Russian State in single rare books of the New York Public Library (from 1934).