Bartolomeo Rastrelli (1700-71)
One of the greatest architects active in Russia, Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli was chiefly responsible for the style of architecture that became known as Russian Baroque, making him an important contributor to Russian art, as well as one of the great Baroque architects, of the 18th century. He started as a court artist under Peter the Great (ruled 1682-1725), before being appointed senior court architect in 1730 by Empress Anne. In this role, Rastrelli directed the campaign of architectural renovation and construction carried on during the reigns of Anne (1730-40) Elizabeth (1741-62), Catherine (1762-96) and Alexander I (1801-25), creating an unmistakable style of Baroque architecture that blends Russian typologies with Renaissance architecture and later Italian and French Baroque. With the help of several other Baroque architects and numerous other Russian artists, he achieved powerful monumental linearity in his designs, as well as extraordinary decorative effects from the coloured facades of the Summer Palace (1740-44; destroyed), Peterhof Palace, near St. Petersburg (1747-55), the Smolny Convent and Cathedral (1748-64), the Catherine Palace at Tsarkoye Selo (1752-56) and the Winter Palace (1754-62). In addition, his interior designs were famous for their lavish Rococo style, and their use of mirrors. In the same way that the Palace of Versailles spawned a mini-renaissance in the activities of French designers and the French Decorative Arts, so the design of the royal buildings of St Petersburg stimulated the emergence of a large school of artisans and master craftsmen: a tradition of Romanov art which culminated in the exquisite jewellery of the Fabergé Easter Eggs. (See also: Russian Painting: 18th Century.)
Born in Paris, Bartolomeo Rastrelli was the son of the sculptor and architect Carlo Bartolomeo Rastrelli. Arriving in Russia at the age of 15, he received his first architectural commission in 1721, during the era of Petrine Art, when he was invited to design a palace for Prince Demetre Cantemir of Moldavia. From an early stage, Rastrelli's aim was to inject Romanov Baroque with the latest Italian motifs. All went well, and as his works pleased the Russian court, so he rose through the ranks becoming senior court architect in 1730: a position he retained under the Empresses Anna and Elizabeth (17301762). In addition those cited above, his main commissions included: Saint Andrew's Church, Kiev (1748-67), Vorontsov Palace, St. Petersburg (1749-57), Hermitage Pavilion, Tsarskoe Selo (1749), Mariyinsky Palace, Kiev (begun 1752), and Stroganov Palace St. Petersburg (1753-54). Other buildings include the Mitava Palace and the Annenhof Palace at Lefortovo.
Rastrelli's popularity and influence gave him many followers, who formed a distinct school of architecture called "Russian Baroque". Among them were the Russian architects: S.I.Chevakinski (1713-83), A.F.Kokorinov (1726-72), Prince Dmitry Vasilyevich Ukhtomski (17191774), V.I.Bazhenov (1737-99), Matvey Fyodorovich Kazakov (1737-1813) and I.E.Starov (1743-1808), some of whom adopted the principles of neoclassical art and entered the service of Empress Catherine the Great.
Their successor Empress Catherine II (Catherine the Great), however, considered Baroque architecture to be too old-fashioned. She replaced Rastrelli with the Scottish architect Charles Cameron (1745-1812), who went on to design a number of buildings in the more modern style of Neoclassical architecture, including the Pavlovsk Palace (1782-86) and the Alexander Palace (1812), near St Petersburg. Meanwhile, Rastrelli was retired to the Duchy of Courland, a coastal region of Latvia, where he was given the task of completing and decorating several palaces owned by the ducal court, such as Rundale Palace, Pilsrundale (completed 1767) and Jelgava Palace (completed 1772). Not long before he died, Rastrelli was elected a member of the Imperial Academy of Arts, St Petersburg.
The Smolny Convent
and Cathedral (1748-64)
The Winter Palace
Other major buildings designed by Rastrelli include:
- Summer Palace (1740-44; destroyed)
In addition to those architects cited above, the best known Baroque designers included:
For more about "Russian Baroque" architecture, see: Homepage.
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