Monday, 8 April 2013

Bartolomeo Francesco Rastrelli

St. Petersburgh, Russia
Bartolomeo Francesco Rastrelli (1700–1771) went to Russia in 1716 with his father, Italian sculptor Carlo Bartolomeo Rastrelli. Russia became his second homeland where he worked for over 40 years. Empress Elizabeth appointed him to the post of senior court architect in 1730. During 1748-1756 Rastrelli was in charge of the Tsarskoye Selo residence construction. Catherine II, then a Grand Duchess, witnessed the work and compared it with that of mythological Penelope; she wrote, “The house has been pulled down six times to the foundation and then built up again.” On 10 May 1752, Empress Elizabeth ordered to completely rebuild her residence, and on 30 July 1756 Rastrelli presented the brand-new 325-meter-long palace to the Empress, her dazed courtiers and stupefied foreign ambassadors. The sumptuous edifice with a semicircle of service buildings (circumferences) enclosing a courtyard became a unique example of the Russian Baroque style. Its brilliant azure walls, snow-white columns, gold sculpture, and glittering onion-shaped domes created a dazzling, fairyland setting. The lavish exterior was echoed by luxuriously decorated interiors, such as Rastrelli’s suite of state rooms – the Golden Enfilade – laid out in a straight line throughout the whole building. More than 100 kilograms of pure gold were used to gild the sophisticated stucco façade and interior carvings. The architect also designed such park pavilions as the Hermitage, Grotto, Monbijou and Coasting Hill.

Bartolomeo Francesco Rastrelli

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