Since its foundation in 1757, the first awards of the Imperial Academy of Arts have been presented as an appreciation of achievements in studies. They included medals, prizes and financial incentives to students in need. The Silver Medals were awarded mostly for the best drawing considered the highest indicator of the professional level. At present, for encouragement of young artists the Russian Academy of Arts annually awards Bronze Medals “For Achievements in Studies” to students of its art lyceums and institutes.
The Gold Medals were conferred only on the graduating students, who had executed the so-called “program works”, i.e. paintings on a topic approved by the Scientific Council of the Imperial Academy of Arts. In various years the Gold Medals were presented to prominent Russian artists such as Ivan Ivazovski, Alexei Bogolyubov, Nikolai Bruni, Karl Bryullov, Nikolai Ge, Orest Kiprenski, Alexander Varnek and many others.
The Imperial Academy of Arts promoted not only the achievements of its students, but also the success of its alumni who enjoyed universal fame and acclaim. Besides single facts, such as the celebration in honor of Karl Bryullov’s masterpiece “The Last Day of Pomeii” that had won the Grand Prix at the Paris Salon, the Academy marked the 50th anniversary of creative work since graduation from the Academy by a gold medal with the image of the person whose jubilee was celebrated on the obverse.
Jubilee medals were issued to commemorate the centenary and the 150th anniversary of the Academy.
Nowadays, the Russian Academy of Arts maintains its historical traditions and awards medals commemorating the Academy’s significant events and personal jubilees of its members. In particular, the 250th anniversary of the Russian Academy of Arts in 2007 was marked by two medals and three types of badges. Two commemorative medals were issued after the recreation of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in 2000, which interior decorations had been executed by artists of the Russian Academy of Arts. In recognition of the overall achievements in fine arts, museum, publication and charitable activities the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Arts confers an Honorable Mention Award and Bronze Medal “Praiseworthy”.
Annually, the Russian Academy of Arts holds a national competition for the best works in fine arts, architecture, design and art history recently created or published. The winners are awarded Gold and Silver medals as well as Diplomas of the Russian Academy of Arts. The names of the winners are published in “DI” magazine. The medals are produced at the Moscow Mint according to replicas of the medals awarded by the Scientific Council of the Imperial Academy of Arts. On the obverse there is Apollo, God of the Arts (designed by Paul Utkin, academician of the Imperial Academy of Arts). The reverse bears the Emblem of the Russian Academy of Arts: a heraldic eagle towering above “the attributes of arts” (designed by Vladimir Sverchkov, academician of the Imperial Academy of Arts).