Work at Vilnius university

J. Rustem started working at Vilnius University in 1798 and continued his work until 1832, when the university was closed. He initially taught elements of sketching as an assistant to professor Franciszek Smuglewicz. He was appointed an Extraordinary Professor of sketching in 1811. He extended the programme, with practical and theoretical sketching lessons already included that year, getting students to sketch antique sculptures, anatomical figures and live models in artificial light.

J. Rustem’s teaching methods were based on the gradual increasing of complexity of tasks. The programme began with copying engravings and drawings of the plaster parts of a human body, later proceeded with drawing plaster antique sculptures and finally with drawing from nature.

J. Rustem considered sketching as the main method for preparing artists, but devoted much attention to teaching painting. He taught painting privately when painting classes were formally terminated at Vilnius University. He also taught painting at Vilnius University from 1819 and was approved as an Extraordinary Professor of sketching and painting in 1821.

J. Rustem gave his own pictures or those of other artists from the department collections to those who studied painting to copy and later students started drawing from nature. Apart from developing practical skills, he explained to students the nature of halftones, the importance of different strokes for the picture’s artistic manner and taught colour theory together with painting techniques.

J. Rustem was responsible for developing art teaching at Vilnius University from the first year and especially from 1819, when he became head of the Sketching and Painting Department. He was also responsible for the preparation of teaching programmes and projects to restructure art departments, the acquisition of suitable training materials, art gallery collections, student scholarships, internships at foreign art schools, awards, granting degrees, etc. J. Rustem organised the first student art exhibitions, which were the first group exhibitions in Vilnius.