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Karl Pavlovich Brulloff (or Briullov) called by his friends the Great Karl (December 12, 1799–June 11, 1852), was the first Russian painter of international standing. He is regarded as a key figure in transition from the Russian neoclassicism to romanticism.
Karl Brulloff (Carlo Brulleau until 1822, when the family name was changed to a more Russian style) was born in 1799 in St. Petersburg into a family of Italian extraction. His great grand-father, grand-father, father and two elder brothers Fedor and Alexander were all painters. His father was a member of the Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg, which is where Karl and his brothers received their education.
Karl entered the Academy in 1809. His talent and heritage told immediately and Brulloff advanced much faster than his fellow students. At the time, education in the academy was based on the principles of Classicism, and Brullof's early works reflect this clearly.
After distinguishing himself as a promising and imaginative student and finishing his education (1821), he left Russia for Rome where he worked until 1835 as a portraitist and genre painter, though his fame as an artist came when he began doing historical painting.
His best-known work, The Last Day of Pompeii (1830–1833), was a huge success in Italy because of the way it blended Classical principles with Romantic ideals. When the painting arrived in St.Petersburg, it impressed the public profoundly, and made Brulloff's reputation as the foremost Russian painter of his day.
In 1836, Brulloff was appointed a professor at the Academy. While teaching at the academy (1836–1848) he developed a portrait style which combined a neoclassical simplicity with a romantic tendency that fused well, and his penchant for realism was satisfied with an intriguing level of psychological penetration.
While he was working on the plafond of St Isaac's Cathedral, his health suddenly deteriorated. Following advice of his doctors, Briullov left Russia for Madeira in 1849 and spent the last three years of his life in Italy (in the hopes that warmer climes would help his recovery). He died in Rome and is buried at the Cemeterio degli Inglesi there.
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