Today: December 25, 2008

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Main | Archive | Issue 2/2008

German Architects, Builders of St. Petersburg
Column: The Arts

The State Museum of St. Petersburg History showed in the Russian capital an exhibition entitled St. Petersburg Architects of the Historism Epoch. The exhibition will be running at the State Pushkin Museum through March 25. Some 100 sheets of design graphics and old lithographs provide insight into the St. Petersburg architecture of the second half of the 19th century, a period of historism, or eclectics, as that period is dubbed now. In Soviet art history, eclectics covering numerous styles stretching from Gothic and baroque down to the neo-Byzantine style and Art Nouveau, was regarded as decadent, but todays art historians give it its due in shaping the historical appearance of the great city on the Neva.

The display demonstrated the Petersburg eclectics from an unexpected perspective: it turned out that architects of German descent played a vital role in the process. They were Karl Rahau (18301880), Maximilian Messmacher (18421906) and others. Andrey (Heinrich) Stackenschneider (18021865), however, was the most remarkable personality that determined the development of the style. A brilliant exponent of baroque, Renaissance and antiquity, he designed buildings in St. Petersburg that continue to dominate the panorama of the citys historical center: the Mariinsky Palace in St. Isaacs Square, Novo-Mikhailovsky Palace on Palace Embankment, the palace once owned by the Beloselsky-Belozerskys on Nevsky Prospekt, and so on. More than 50 constructions and structures, including country residences, and pavilions, were designed by the architect in Peterhof and its suburbs. Moreover, A. Stackenschneider was also instrumental in molding the historical center of Helsinki. We publish reproductions of old lithographs depicting the masters most renowned works.

Oleg Torchinsky.
Reproductions by Alexander Bibik.


-, 2006