The attempts to reform the educational system of Russia were undertaken in the second half of XVIII. They were to a greater extent dictated by the authorities' concern of upbringing of the " new breed of people ", capable to serve as a support to the throne and to put into practice plans of the monarch.
The most vigorous conductor of the course was I.I.Betsky (1704-1795), the outstanding teacher and the organizer of the educational affair in Russia. According to Betsky project the following organizations were established: Educational houses for foundlings and "unfortunate-born" children in Moscow and St. Petersburg (1764 and 1770), the Society for two hundred noble maidens in St. Petersburg (1764) with a branch for petty-bourgeois maidens (1765), the Commercial school (1772), and also cadet cases were reorganized.
In 1782 - 1786 the school reform was carried out, which had created the system of uniformly organized educational establishments with the uniform curriculum and general technique. They were the so-called " national schools " - main in provincial cities and small in districts. The first were the four-grade schools where besides initial disciplines arithmetics, geometry, geography, history, natural sciences, and architecture, the Russian, mechanics and physics were taught. The second were the two-grade schools and provided with the basic knowledge (reading, writing, calligraphy, arithmetics, catechism). The system of national schools rapidly grew: at the end of XVIII the total number of 288 schools was already counted, with 22 thousand of pupils studying there.
Apart from the comprehensive school, schools for poor children and orphans were created on the initiative of private persons in Saint Petersburg, Moscow, Tver, Vladimir, Kursk, Tula and other cities. In 1779 on N.I.Novikov's initiative the teacher's seminary was opened at the Moscow university - the first pedagogical educational institution in Russia. Medical staff training was also improved - at the end of XVIII there were three medical schools, the Medical-surgical academy and the medical faculty at the Moscow university.
In 1783 the Russian Academy, headed by E.R.Dashkova, was founded. Studying natural resources of the country was still remaining the major area of the research activity. The most productive were the five academic expeditions organized in 1768-1774 with the purpose of the complex investigation of nature, population, facilities, life and culture in different parts of Russia.
In the second half of XVIII the major technical inventions were made: self-taught mechanic I.P.Kulibin (1735-1818) had improved polishing glasses for optical devices, created the prototype of a projector, the semaphore telegraph, the lift, a new clockwork. In 1763 another prominent inventor, soldier's son I.I.Polzunov (1728-1766), had developed the project of the universal steam engine - the first-ever two-cylinder machine of continuous action. In 1765 he had constructed the first in Russia steam-power installation for factory needs. In the second half of XVIII the study of history had considerably advanced. It was the time of work of such prominent historians as M.M.Shcherbatov and I.N.Boltin. Shcherbatov's 7-volume work (" The Russian History from the most ancient times "), chronologically led up prior to the beginning of Michael Romanov's reign, was interesting not only from the point of view of the rich historical material submitted in it, but also from the point of view of attempts of establishing of causality of historical events which the author had connected with the characteristics of historic figures, ruling ideas, customs and traditions of each epoch. Unlike Shcherbatov, I.N.Boltin (1735-1792) wasn't the professional historian, but had managed to make the whole series of valuable historical supervision in works which were written in polemic with French author Leklerk and Shcherbatov ("The Notes on " The Ancient and the Present History of Russia " by Leklerk" and 'Critical notes of general - major Boltin on the first and the second volumes of " The History " of prince Shcherbatov).
The breach of classicistic laws was noticeably reflected in a genre of comedy. Thus, even the comedies of orthodox ' classicist ' A.P.Sumarokov, written in 60 - 70es, had a distinct satirical and accusatory orientation, bright ethnic colouring. Rapproachement of literature with life ran through the so-called method of " introduction of originals ", i.e. images of concrete persons, easily recognized by the reader or the spectator by particularly individual features. Those tendencies were vividly expressed in the works of D.I.Fonvizin.
At the end of XVIII the school of sentimentalism was appearing in Russian literature. As against to classicists, glorifying the power of government and human sense, sentimentalists mainly appealed to the inner world of the person, his psychological state and feelings. The leading genres were a novel, a diary, traveling notes. The development of sentimentalism was most vividly reflected in the work of Y.M.Karamzin (1766-1826).
In the second half of XVIII Russian theatre achieved its bloom. It was greatly contributed by the transformation of management of theatres: in 1766 theatres were placed under submission of joint body - " Theatrical management " - and put on the state maintenance. At the same time theatres became public. In 1783 public state theatre - the so-called Bolshoy, or Stone, theatre was opened. Prior to that, in 1779, German impresario K.Knipper established the private city theatre on Tsaritsyn Lug in Saint-Petersburg. In 1780 the Petrovsky theatre (named according to its location - Petrovskaya area) was established, the head and the owner of which was the Englishman M.Medoks. The productions by European and Russian playwrights: Bomarche, Lessing, Molyer, Sumarokov, Fonvizin, Knyazhin were successfully staged on Russian boards.
The fine art had also entered the new stage of its development. The officially recognized leading art genre was historical painting, which was greatly emphasized by the Academy of arts. Such representatives of the genre as A.P.Losenko (1737-1773), B.I.Ugryumoe (1764-1823), who had written a series of canvases on different topics of Russian history, had achieved the greatest success. Genre painting, though not officially honored and demanded among rich customers, had also given famous names like: I.Firsov, M.Shibanov.
Landscape became an independent genre of fine art in the second half of XVIII. The special landscape class was founded in the Academy of Arts. The most talented masters of the genre such as S.F.Shchedrin (1745-1804), F.Y.Alexeyev (1753-1824) had depicted the picturesque views of Moscow and St. Petersburg, Pavlovsk, Gatchina, Peterhof on their canvases.
Sculpture of the second half of XVIII developed under the prevailing influence of classicism directing sculptors for search of patterns of high art among the works of antiquity. One of the most outstanding monuments of sculpture was the equestrian statue of Peter I created by E.M.Falkone (1716-1791).
Architecture of the second half of XVIII experienced the influence of classicism to a greater extent than sculpture. Architects constantly turned to the heritage of antique classics, under the influence of which the architectural style evolved to increasing simplicity and strictness of forms, rational convenience of plans.