As a serious artistic activity, Russian painting really dates only from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. As the Russian Symbolist poet Alexander Blok put it, "Russian culture is a combination of cultures, we are a new country." Blok's new country was actually synthetic and coldly calculated - created at the beginning of the eighteenth century with Peter the Great's westernization of Old Russia. This had often been carried out with great brutality. And in some ways so too had Peter's introduction of western culture, art and architecture. Russian society was originally tribal and backward; its art was either primitive and decorative or religious. This episode presents numerous examples of paintings from this unique period in Russian history.