The Russian Academy of Arts in Saint Petersburg, informally known as the Saint Petersburg Academy of Arts, was founded in 1757 by Ivan Shuvalov under the name Academy of the Three Noblest Arts. Catherine the Great renamed it the Imperial Academy of Arts and commissioned a new building, completed 25 years later in 1789 by the Neva River. The academy promoted the neoclassical style and technique, and sent its promising students to European capitals for further study. Training at the academy was virtually required for artists to make successful careers.
Formally abolished in 1918 after the Russian Revolution, the academy was renamed several times. It established free tuition; students from across the country competed fiercely for its few places annually. In 1947 the national institution was moved to Moscow, and much of its art collection was moved to the Hermitage. The building in Leningrad was devoted to the Ilya Repin Leningrad Institute for Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, named in honor of one of Russia's foremost realist artists. Since 1991 it has been called the St. Petersburg Institute for Painting, Sculpture and Architecture.