Rastrelli, Bartolommeo Francesco

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Rastrelli, Bartolommeo Francesco (c. 1700 – 1771): Italo-Russian Architect.

Bartolommeo Francesco Rastrelli, best known for his masterpiece the Winter Palace, was the most prominent architect in Russia during eighteenth century, beginning the High Baroque architecture period in that region.

Rastrelli was born in Paris in 1700, son of Carlo Rastrelli, a sculptor. He traveled with his father to Saint Petersburg around 1715, but returned to Paris to complete his education between 1725- 1730. In 1730, Rastrelli returned to Russia. The same year, he built the Annehof, a palace complex constructed of wood, for the Tsarina Anna Ivanovna. Built along the River Yauza, this palace was of an impressive magnitude, incorporating statues, gilded capitals on the pilasters, and a long decorative façade. From 1732- 36, he worked on the new Third Winter Palace, and from 1741 to 1744 built the Summer Palace in St Petersburg.

Rastrelli was most active during 1740’s and 50’s, during which period construction in general in St. Peterburg flourished. Many palaces and royal homes during this time were reconstructed, or newly built, and during Elizabeth’s reign as Tzarina, Rastrelli received almost every commission.

While many of his works have been destroyed, his masterpiece and last major work, the fourth Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, still stands, though the interiors were rebuilt after a 1837 fire. Rastrelli built the fourth Winter Palace from 1754–62. A massive three-story building with decorative features common to his work, the Winter Palace has fanciful Baroque façades, and over 90 decorative sculptures on the roof.

In 1762, Catherine II, the Great, who favored Neo-Classicism, came into power, and Rastrelli retired. In his later years, he worked on churches, and decorated some palace interiors. He died in 1771 in St. Petersburg

Further Reading:

Y. M. Ovsyannikov. “Bartolomeo Francesco [Francesco Bartolomeo] Rastrelli.” The Grove Dictionary of Art. Ed. J. Turner, 2001.

Sigrid Kelsey

Louisiana State University