Andrej Beloborodoff was born in Tula, Russia, in 1886 and studied architecture at the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts in St Petersburg, where he graduated in 1915. He was awarded the Prix de Rome, but unfortunately was unable to use his scholarship immediately due to the outbreak of the First World War and the Russian Revolution in 1917.
Three years later, he decided to leave St Petersburg to study in Paris, where he stayed for almost fifteen years. Right from the start, his vocation as an architect combined with that of a painter, working on views with a clear perspective and monumental structure, distancing himself from any contemporary artistic movement or current.
Also in 1920, he made his first visit to Italy, where he was strongly fascinated by its landscape and architecture. In 1934, he decided to move to Rome to pursue his artistic project of creating a rich collection of views dedicated to the country where he had decided to spend the rest of his life.
Architectural Vedutism: memories from 18th Century
Andrej Beloborodoff decided to focus his entire artistic career on 18th-century vedutism. The classic fusion of the sister arts, painting and architecture, which occurs in vedutists such as Canaletto, returns in the conceptual mission of the Russian painter who, like an 18th-century artist, was dazzled by Italy on his modern Grand Tour in the early 1920s.
A sort of Arcadian perception can be seen in his wide-ranging views, in which the mighty architecture provides a rhythmic framework, including The Trevi Fountain in the Moonlight, Fantastic View of Vicenza and Scene from the Teatro Olimpico, in which Piranesi’s and Palladio’s reminiscences combine to create scenic images with an antique flavour.
Some of these views painted in Campania, in Salerno to be precise, were published in 1951 as engravings in the precious album introduced by Paul Valéry Le Golfe de Salerne. Treize bois originaux de Béloborodoff introduits par un texte inédit de Paul Valéry. On the other hand, Andrej Beloborodoff dedicated to his adopted city Rome the volume Rome: notes d’histoire et d’art. Par Maurice Paléologue de l’Académie Francaise Ambassadeur de France.
The atmospheric transparency and optical precision of some of the views seem to recall the works of Giovanni Paolo Pannini, while in the technical and chiaroscuro skill of some of the woodcuts he has often been compared to the Renaissance engraver Ugo da Carpi, also for his extreme sensitivity to classical culture and his passion for antiquities.
There is a sense of reawakening a dormant Arcadian feeling, but also a vague romantic tension that appears in some views, such as The Marshes around Lake Mantua, Villa Catena at Bassano di Sutri, The Entrance to the Palace of Caprarola, Pitti Palace, Fantastic View of Sabbioneta, and View of Bagnaia.