Room 163 contains material devoted to the work and activities of Mikhail Lomonosov (1711-1765). As a result of many experiments.

Lomonosov discovered the composition of smalt and revived the art of mosaic, which had flourished in old Russia. There are five mosaics on display, created in the workshop of which he himself was master. Notable among these is the portrait of Peter the Great, Lomonosov’s own work. In the exhibition there are examples of Lomonosov’s scientific and literary work and some astronomical instruments, manufactured in the workshop of the Academy of Sciences, to which he devoted much attention, all affording evidence of the many-sided talents of one of the eighteenth century’s greatest scholars.

Kulibin. Egg-shaped clock

Examples of Russian painting, largely portraiture, which came into vogue on a large scale in the eighteenth century, are to be found in rooms 165 and 170. The portraits of Prince Cherkassky and Count Sheremetev, painted by the talented serf artist Ivan Argunov (1727-1802), should be given special mention. Several portraits by the outstanding portrait painters Dmitry Levitsky (1735-1822) and Vladimir Borovikovsky (1757-1825), and the landscapes of Semion Shchedrin (1745-1804) illustrate the {lowering of Russian painting in the second half of the eighteenth century.

Vinogradov. Porcelain cup

The water-colours, engravings and sketches in rooms 164 and 172 acquaint one with eighteenth century Russian architecture. These include in particular items associated with the work of the most outstanding Russian architect of the eighteenth century, Bartolommeo Rastrelli, Vasily Bazhenov (1737-1799), Matvey Kazakov (1738- 1812/13) and Ivan Starov.

In room 169 special attention should be paid to the egg-shaped clock designed by the distinguished self-taught Russian mechanic Ivan Kulibin (1735-1818). The small clock, the size of a goose’s egg, has more than four hundred parts, which set in motion three mechanisms – one clockwork, one musical, and the third which animates miniature gold figures. Kulibin worked on the clock for more than three years and made it so well that the complex mechanism remains to this day in good working order. Among Kulibin s many technical inventions was a plan for a gigantic, single-span wooden bridge across the Neva, never realized in the conditions of feudal Russia.

Russian craft industry and folk art are widely represented in rooms 167, 173 and 174 by articles made of silver, metal and glass, tapestries, and some wood and ivory carving. Included in the rich collection of eighteenth century porcelain are some rare examples – a cup, ornamented with a grape design (1749), and a snuff-box (1752) produced in the Imperial Porcelain Works in St Petersburg by the father of home-produced porcelain, Vinogradov (1720-1758).

In room 173, among items made by ivory carvers from the town of Kholmogory near Archangel, is an elegant open-work carved vase, created by N. Vereshchagin. The chief attraction here is the splendid collection of articles made in Tula from polished steel – weapons, caskets, decorative tableware, chessmen – the surfaces of which are adorned with rose-cut steel “heads” (room 174).

The Gold Room contains some very rare examples of Russian jewellery dating from the seventeenth to twentieth century.

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3 May 2007