Pavel Petrovich Svin'in (1787/88-1839) was a painter, diplomat, and journalist who spent two years as part of the first Russian diplomatic mission to the United States. Soon after returning to Russia, Svin'in published a travel narrative of his experiences.
A Russian Paints America presents the first complete English translation of Svin'in's fascinating memoir. Thirty-one original watercolours complement his provocative views on topics such as slavery, religion, politics, and the fine arts. Introductory essays by Marina Swoboda and William Whisenhunt examine Russian-American relations, consider Svin'in's life and particular role in Russian history, and set his work in the context of the genre of picturesque travel - Svin'in clearly did not set out to produce a scholarly account of the United States but a work of literature, at a time when Russian literary language was in its earliest stages of development.
Coinciding with the 200th anniversary of official Russian-American relations, A Russian Paints America is a distinctive work of interdisciplinary and transnational scholarship that provides a compelling picture of the political and cultural environment in Russia and America in the early nineteenth century.