Catherine the Great Monument
The statue of Catherine the Great stands in a small garden in Ostrovsky Square (original idea by Mikhail Mikeshin, sculptors Matvei Chizhov and Alexander Opekushin, designer of the pedestal – David Grimm, 1873). The empress is depicted in an ermine robe, holding a scepter, and surrounded by her associates at the foot of a high granite pedestal. On the front side of the monument is Catherine’s favorite, the political and military personage, Count Grigory Potyomkin of Taurida stepping on a Turkish turban. Beside him stands Generalissimo Alexander Suvorov. On the other side of Potyomkin is Field Marshal Pyotr Rumantsev-Zadunaisky, and behind him, holding an open book, Yekaterina Dashkova, the Director of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Then comes the poet Gavriil Derzhavin, the Admiral Vasily Chichagov, and other eminent figures in Russia at the end of the 18th century.
A certain conventionality in the composition of the monument is evident, for the statue of Catherine the Great (4.35 m) is almost twice as high as the other figures and the stance of the empress is theatrical and pompous. Nevertheless, the monument is of artistic value owning to the realistic interpretation of the personages, each of whom is sculptured with portrait likeness.
I may here mention that I have nowhere found such large masses of stone conveyed from place to place as here in St. Petersburg. It is true I have seen marble fresh from the mountains of Carrara tugged along by teams of bullocks, butI have nowhere witnessed so much power brought to bear as in the transit of the granite used in the immense memorial to the Empress Catherine.
J. Atkison, St. Petersburg