In the Russian empire, Art Nouveau was called stil modern (modern style in English). It was perhaps the most dominant artistic and architectural movement that shaped the appearance of today St. Petersburg, and to a lesser degree, of Moscow, Nizhnij (Nizhny) Novgorod and many other cities. Riga, now in Latvia, which was part of the Russian Empire and its turn of the century buildings were representative of the general direction of artistic and architectural thought in the country.

During the second half of the XIX century and up to 1914, the russian empire comes up to the european economical level. The construction of the transsiberian railway (more than 9000km between 1891 and 1903) is representative of the growth of industry. Industry is less and less owned by noble people. And since 1861, serfdom is replaced by a new system : villages own the land that was redistributed regularly to peasants.

St. Petersburg alone has several thousands surviving Art Nouveau buildings, in fact large urban districts were rebuilt entirely with Art Nouveau structures before 1914. Unfortunately, this heritage fell into obscurity as in other european countries. In France, Russian heritage was redicovered by the French communist and resistant poet Aragon after world war II. If Russia took a large part in the Art Nouveau movements, it was not the same in the later Art Deco due the Bolshevist dictature.

St Petersburg

Famous artists :


    Maxime Gorki, the famous communist writer, lived in one of the most marvellous Art Nouveau house of Moscow. This house was later transformed in the Gorki Museum. A recent restoration gave visitors the original state of this house even if it was not what Gorki saw in the thirties when he lived in this house. The handrail must be seen, but the building is in itself a complete work of art : every thing is designed in the Art Nouveau style from the railings to the stain glass.

Famous artists :

Thanks to Eugene Suharnikov <> for his help.

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