Saint-Petersburg was founded on the banks of the Neva river that, having became the main vital artery of the new capital, played paramount role in its fate. Saint-Petersburg and the Neva River are inseparable, and the notions of “Neva Capital” and “City on the Neva river” are clear for anyone who has ever been here. It would be no exaggeration to say that water is the main element of Saint-Petersburg. Water surrounds the city: it is not only the numerous rivers, channels and the Gulf of Finland, but also the air penetrated with humidity, rain, mist that every resident of Saint-Petersburg is accustomed to since childhood. Many of the city’s myths and legends are connected with the beauty and fearsome power of the water element. The charm and guile of the Neva river created the mystic aureole of the Northern Capital. The diversity of the Saint-Petersburg 'life on the water' is reflected in the photographs of the late XIX – early XX century.

Notable among these images are the city landscapes by Boissonas and Eggler, one of the best known photography studios in the city that became famous for its portraits. With the use of complex pigment and gum techniques, photographers created works of undoubted artistic value. These cityscapes create a romantic and somewhat mysterious and enigmatic image of Saint-Petersburg, in the evening mist, during the white nights, under the frost. A large part in the exhibition is given to the works of N. G. Matveyev. whose photographs were used to illustrate the historical essay Petersburg published in 1913 by V. Y. Kurbatov. Matveyev’s works show the austere beauty of Saint-Petersburg, depicting common city landscapes from unusual angles.

Karl Bulla, the outstanding master of reportage, depicted the roaring, eventful life of the city. The image of the changing city in the post-revolutionary period was captured in the photographs made by the Leningrad restoration workshop in the 1920-s.

The exhibition “City on the Water” allows the audience to view Saint-Petersburg with eyes of photographers of the late XIX – early XX century and to plunge into the atmosphere of the city, blown with the Baltic sea winds, and ruled by the water element.

Multimedia version of the exhibition has been shown at ROSPHOTO as a part of the Museum Night 2012 program.