Russian painter Fyodor Petrovich Tolstoy belonged to a noble family, with a perspective of a brilliant career. In 1802 Fyodor Tolstoy graduated from the Marine Corps with the rank of warrant officer, and at the same time entered the Academy. Craving for art proved insurmountable, and in 1804 he resigned, sacrificing not only his career but also strong position in life. Tolstoy’s artistic interests were not very common. He was most fascinated by the areas of art that were traditionally considered as “not serious”. But Tolstoy achieved impressive results and made his name known.
He began modeling wax reliefs and created a series of small (11×11 cm), but expressive portraits (AF Dudina, KA Leberecht, PA Tolstaya, self-portrait, etc.), as well as projections on classical themes (“Triumphal Entry of Alexander the Great in Babylon”, 1809, etc.). His successes have been seen in 1810, he was appointed to the St. Petersburg Mint to create medals.
Tolstoy perfectly studied this profession that requires skill on a tiny field symbolically conveying an important message, as well as possession of a tedious and complex technique. Gained experience at the Mint, Tolstoy created one of his best works – a series of 21 medallions dedicated to the Patriotic War of 1812-14. The disks 16 cm in diameter captured in allegorical form the most important events of the war. Medallions were made of wax on slate and later cast in plaster.
Other capital work of Tolstoy was a series of illustrations for the poem of IF Bogdanovich “Darling”, on the myth of love of Cupid and Psyche (1820 – early 1830). In this simple and poetic creation, executed with a skillful hand master reflected his fascination with antiquity. All 67 paintings he repeated in the engraving cutter, this new technique he perfectly mastered. Tolstoy achieved excellent results even in silhouette – technique, common mostly among lovers and almost not taken seriously by professionals. He created complex scenes of folk and military life, as well as battle scenes of World War II.
Tolstoy had a rare variety of creative interests during his life. Already an old man, in 1838, he composed the ballet “Aeolian Flute” – wrote the libretto, costumes and performed more than 60 drawings, which defines the choreography of the ballet; and four years later wrote a second ballet – “Echo”. But, unfortunately, none of them has been put on the stage.
Tolstoy was encyclopaedic man, apart from anything he undertook, he sought to learn thoroughly, bringing something of his own: invented new recipes of paints and adhesives, used the original techniques and improved them. In 1828 he became vice-president of the Academy of Arts, in 1842 – professor of the medal, in 1849 – professor of sculpture, and in 1859 – companion (ie deputy) of president. By the end of his life, he, however, began to go blind, then completely lost his sight, but even then remained active, thoughtful and attractive man, as he was known from a young age.