Monday, May 17, 2010

Russian Rococo Restored

After revisiting Rio’s Lage Mansion in a previous post I wanted to share another inspiring residence encountered on my travels.

I first came upon the Yusupov Pavilion several years ago on a tour of St. Petersburg and it’s environs. The long neglected structure was undergoing a complete restoration and my group was invited to witness craftsmen fashioning plaster into the froth of Rococo scrolls encrusting the exterior.

Built in 1856 by architect I. Moniguetti, this exuberant Rococo fantasy was inspired by the great palaces designed a century earlier by the Italian master Bartolomeo Rastrelli, including the nearby Catherine Palace at Tsarskoe Selo. For wonderful artistic images of the ruined building before restoration see numbers 13 and 14 in the gallery here.

The beautiful summerhouse seen here in a period photo was built for Princess Zinaida Yusupova to house her collections of fine art and rare minerals. It's said the Princess was originally offered the mansion by the Tsar himself in exchange for her participation in amorous endeavors. Being one of the wealthiest women in Russia she chose instead to decline his advances and simply have the plans constructed herself. The Yusopov family is perhaps best known to history for Zinaida’s great grandson Prince Felix’s involvement in the assassination of Rasputin at one of the Yusupov’s St. Petersburg palaces.
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