THE STROGANOFF PALACE IN ST. PETERSBURG
Above: the Arabesque Hall
The palace is situated in heart of old city on the Moika Canal embankment near the Winter Palace and Kazan Cathedral at Nevsky Prospect, 17.
At left: detail of the decoration of the Arabesque Hall as it appears today.
An earlier Stroganoff palace, built by the Russian architect, Mikhail Zemstov, between 1738-43, existed on the site prior to the erection of the current building. In 1753 Baron Sergei Stroganoff, who was Court Chamberlain during the reign of the extravagent Empress Elizabeth, invited the famous Italian Court Architect, Rastrelli, to create a new palace for him in the baroque style. Work on the palace went rapidly and in six weeks enough was done to permit a Gala Ball at the palace for Empress Elizabeth's birthday on December 15, 1753. The completion of the new palace took a number of years years and Baron Stroganoff did not live to see its completion; he died in 1757. The palace was, in the main part, completed in 1760 by his son, Alexander. Alexander was the most prominent representative of the family at the time and was Marshall of the St. Petersburg Nobility Association and Court Chamberlain.
The celebrated exterior facade of the palace is impressive and one of the notable landmarks of St. Petersburg.
The main palace interiors of the palace consist of a Great Vestibule and Main Staircase decorated with sculptural work and artifical marble, a Grand Salon with an enormous painting by the Venetian artist, Valeriani and an exquisite suite of neoclassical rooms by the architect, Voronikhin. This suite consists of a Cabinet of Minerals, Picture Gallery, Library and Physical Cabinet and was designed by Voronikhin for Alexander Stroganoff around 1800. It is generally believed that Voronikhin, born of a serf mother on the Stroganoff estate, was the son of Aleksandr.
Being a living residence, the interiors of the palace were modified throughout the 19th century to adjust to changing styles and the use of the building as a family residence. During this period more opulent ineteriors were created, such as the Arabeque Hall and the Hugh Robert Room, especially created to showcase six great works by the French master.
In 1897 a special exhibition of Old Master paintings was opened in the palace. After the revolution of 1917 the palace was nationalised and converted to a museum depicting the style of life of the Russian nobility under the Monarchy. This museum functioned from 1919 until 1930 when it was closed and the building handed over to government bureaucrats as offices. Enormous damage was done to the palace in this conversion and its subsequent use, although many of the most important interiors of the palace have miraculously survived, regretably without their furnishings and art objects.
Above: a recent view of Count P.A. Stroganov's Library.
In 1990 the extraordinary value of Stroganoff Palace as an important cultural monument of global significance was recognised and by goverment decree the building officially moved under the aegis of the Russian Museum. Despite many difficulties and challenges, restoration of its interiors by the Russian Museum began almost immediately and continues to this day with the support of the Stroganoff Foundation. The restoration has attracted attention from around the world and is a centerpiece of the renaissance of the St. Petersburg cultural heritage being spearheaded by the Russian Museum. At this moment, work nears completion on the splendid Main Staircase, lovely Dining Room, the Upper Vestible and the magnificent Grand Salon, a Rastrelli masterpiece.
You can become a part of the rebirth of the Stroganoff Palace. Go here to learn how you can support and participate in this noble effort.
Currently exhibitions from the Russian Museum collection are held on the ground floor. Palace offices can be reached at + 7 (812) 3112360.