With the advent of the 18th century, Russia began to change dramatically. All changes took place at the peak of the popularity of the Baroque style in Europe. The traditions of Russian sculpture, still oriented toward the church, have proved unclaimed in the new conditions. Therefore, the main masterpieces of Russia in the first half of the 18th century were created by foreigners. Of the Russian artists, we can name only Ivan Zarudny, who created the altar of the Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg. However, his contribution is more tangible in architecture than sculpture.
The undeniable championship in Russian plastic art of the first half of the 18th century belongs to Carlo Rastrelli. Among his works, one can especially highlight the sculptural portrait of Peter the Great. The author is unusually accurate in conveying portrait similarities, meticulous in details. His portrait turned out to be one of the most realistic images of the first Russian emperor. The viewer gets a complete picture of Peter's character, of his inner energy and determination.
The ceremonial monument to Peter, installed near the Mikhailovsky Castle in St. Petersburg, was created in accordance with the European traditions of royal equestrian statues. A magnificent landing, stylized clothes, antique sandals - all in this work is intended to emphasize the divine origin of the ruler’s power, its connection in the ancient history of the state. Before the viewer, the image is not an ordinary living person, but a ruler, ideal, imperious and fair.
The undoubted success of the author can be called a marble sculptural portrait of Alexander Menshikov. The statesman and faithful associate of the emperor is somewhat idealized. But Rastrelli managed to hint at the love for the luxury of his hero. One only has to pay attention to the abundance of awards and the carefully executed wig of the hero.
The sculptural composition Anna Ioannovna with an arapochka decorating one of the halls of the Russian Museum is an example of magnificent baroque sculpture, magnificent and emotional.
The second half of the 18th century makes some adjustments to aesthetic representations, Russian names appear among famous artists. The Imperial Academy of Arts by this time graduates such famous masters as Shubin, Shchedrin, Gordeev, Martos, Kozlovsky. However, foreigners continue to prevail.
The sculptural portraits of Shubin are distinguished by realism, temperament and special plasticity. Portraits of Golitsyn, Lomonosov, Orlov, Paul the First are masterpieces of not only Russian, but also world sculpture.
The end of the 18th century brought with it a new style in art - classicism. In the new aesthetics, sculptors Kozlovsky (Polycrates, Yakov Dolgoruky, Volkhov and Neva, etc.), Shchedrin (Venus, Diana), and also Prokofiev (Morpheus, Acteon the Persecuted) created. The new aesthetics required artists to glorify reason and civic virtues. The emotionality and decorativeness of Baroque were not more in demand.