Ivan Vitali a great Russian sculptor
Ivan Vitali is a great Russian sculptor with Italian roots and a close friend of the painter Karl Bryullov
Ivan Vitali (1794 – July 5, 1855) – the famous Russian sculptor of the XIX century, a prominent representative of classicism in the history of Russian fine arts. He was known as the author of the rich decorative design for St. Isaac’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg.
Ivan Vitali did not have a professional academic education and only once left the Russian Empire in his life. In honor of him, the famous school of painting, sculpture and architecture was formed.
Ivan Vitali was born in 1794 in St. Petersburg in the family of a master sculptor. His father opened a small studio. Parents named their son at birth Giovanni, but in Russian they called Ivan Petrovich. From childhood, the boy helped his father in the workshop and in practice comprehended the basics of sculptural art. And at the age of 16, Ivan became an apprentice to Agostino Triscorni.
In 1818, 24-year-old Vitali moved to Moscow, which was badly damaged by fire during the war. The ancient Russian capital was actively rebuilt at that time. Having opened his own workshop, Ivan Petrovich soon gained fame as a skilled artist. For 20 years of living in Moscow, he created hundreds of skillful masterpieces. He was enthusiastically engaged in the manufacture of decor for the facades of buildings. He designed and embodied monumental works in stone or bronze, made tombstones commissioned by local nobles.
In Moscow, Ivan Vitali met and became friends with the great Russian painter Karl Bryullov. In the late 1830s, the sculptor went to the homeland of his ancestors in Italy. There he married a charming peasant woman and then returned to Russia. In 1841, large-scale work began on the decorative design of St. Isaac’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg. The painting of the arch of the main dome of the temple was entrusted to Karl Pavlovich Bryullov.
By the highest order of Emperor Nicholas I, Ivan Petrovich was invited to St. Petersburg and began to complete the task. Over the next 15 years, he created many beautiful masterpieces: reliefs, statues, sculptural groups and interior decoration. Despite the huge employment, the master managed to deal with other projects. On the personal instructions of the tsar, he made a monument to Paul I, for the collection of the Hermitage – a statue of Venus.
From the beginning of the 1850s, the master’s health began to deteriorate rapidly, but he continued to work until his death. Being at the zenith of fame, on July 5, 1855, Ivan Petrovich Vitali died in St. Petersburg at the age of 59. Today, the remains of a genius are located on the territory of the necropolis of the Alexander Nevsky Lavra.