In the XVIII-XIX centuries, foreign painters, architects, sculptors came to work in Russia, bringing the traditions of European art culture into Russian art. For many of them, Russia is becoming a second homeland.
In 1807, an eight-year-old boy, Fidelio Giovanni (later renamed Fyodor Antonovich), came to St. Petersburg with his father, Italian artist and restorer Antonio Bruni. He will become a prominent representative of Russian classicism.
The baby, born in Milan in December 1799, early showed the ability to draw. His first teacher was his father. At the age of ten, Fedor entered first in an educational school at the Imperial Academy of Arts, and then in a class of historical painting.
In 1818, the young man successfully completed his studies, but he was not assigned an academic scholarship for an internship in Italy. He goes there on his own, at the insistence of his father. The young man works hard: he copies Raphael’s frescoes on the instructions of the Academy, writes canvases on biblical (“Holy Cecilia”) and mythological (“Awakening of Graces”) plots. The first fame and membership in the Roman Academy of Arts in 1824 brings him the painting "The Death of Camilla, the Sisters of Horace", made in the best traditions of classicism. At the same time, he creates magnificent engravings on the history of Russia, taking for them plots from the "History of the Russian State" by N. M. Karamzin.
Only 10 years later, in 1828, by decree of Emperor Nicholas I, a young artist was awarded a scholarship and left in Italy for another 5 years. In 1834, F. Bruni received the title of academician.
A year later, he marries Angelica Cerny, a beautiful and well-educated girl with whom she will live a happy and long life. Having returned with his young wife in St. Petersburg in 1836, Fedor Bruni, by then a professor, was teaching at the Academy of Arts, working a lot on painting the church of the Winter Palace. In 1837, he was among the three painters who made sketches after the death of the poet, and his unique drawing “A. S. Pushkin in the grave "is widely recognized in Russia.
In 1838, for another two and a half years, the couple again left for Italy, where the master fruitfully works on canvases for biblical subjects (“Our Lady and the Baby Standing Before Her”). For the Kazan Cathedral, the artist creates an image of the “Intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary”. He completes his most famous painting, The Copper Serpent, exhibited in the Winter Palace in 1841 and is highly praised and an unprecedented success.
Having received an order for painting the completed St. Isaac's Cathedral, Fedor Antonovich in 1845 presents 25 cardboards with biblical subjects, twelve of which were made in the cathedral.
The painter gives a lot of effort to replenishing the Hermitage collection, since in 1849 he was appointed the keeper of the art gallery. The merits of the artist were highly appreciated, since 1855 he became the rector of the Academy of Arts, which during his leadership becomes a real stronghold of classicism. In 1872, he confirmed his sketches for the painting of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, but his disciples already worked on them.
Fedor Antonovich Bruni died in St. Petersburg in 1875. His works occupy a worthy place among the masterpieces of the collections of the State Russian Museum, the Hermitage, and the State Tretyakov Gallery.