Stroganoff Palace is a magnificent Late Baroque palace at the intersection of the Moika River and Nevsky Prospect in Saint Petersburg, Russia. This is an outstanding work by the architect Barolomeo Rastrelli. Moulded decoration covers most of the central part of the building.
The Stroganoff Family
The Stroganoffs (Stroganovs) were an old and very rich family. In the 15th century one of them paid a ransom to free Prince Vasily II of Moscow from captivity - the Tatars who took him captive demanded 200 thousand roubles in ransom. The treasury was empty and the tsar could no pay the ransom - so instead the Stroganovs paid the ransom and in October of 1441 the princce regained his freedom.
In the 16th century the Stroganoffs organized a military campaign to conquer Siberia. Peter the Great granted them the title of baron. Sergei Stroganoff, for whom Rastrelli built this palace, enjoyed the favor of Empress Elizabeth.
Among the homes of nobles, hardly inferior in magnificence to the imperial residences, those which do more honor to Rastrelli are Anichkov Palace, built on the corner of Nevsky Prospekt and the Fontanka canal for a lover of the empress; the Vorontsov Palace, slathered in red today as the Winter Palace, but was originally painted in two shades; and especially the magnificent Stroganov Palace, at the corner of Nevsky Prospect and the Moika Canal. It is regrettable that it has been slathered into a uniform coating of a dark red color while the original was in two shades: white and light orange. But beautifully proportioned columns, rich without being heavy decoration makes this palace equal of the finest "baroque" palaces in Prague and Vienna.
Russian Art from Peter the Great to our days, Louis Réau, 1922
His son Alexander, a well known statesman and patron of the arts, amassed a splendid art collection in the palace. Many of these paintings now adorn the Hermitage collection. Paul I appointed him President of the Academy of Arts and gave him the title of count. His son Paul was a member of the Jacobin club in Paris during the French revolution. He later became the trusted advisor of Alexander I.
Alexander Stroganov, Patron of the arts
The reputation of Alexander Stroganov, as patron of the arts & connoisseur, had even crossed the borders of Russia. His name was known to the French, Germans & Italians. And this is understandable: the Count had collected numerous treasures for his gallery in his wanderings through Europe, while visiting tirelessly foreign artists - he knew personally almost all celebrities of his time, such as Greuze, Lagrenée & Canova, whose paintings or marble decorated his palace in St. Petersburg.
STROGONOFF, an ancient Russian family, which has produced several distinguished men. Count Alexander Strogonoff was a liberal patron of the arts and sciences, and became a resident of the Academy of Fine Arts at St. Petersburg. He died in 1811. His nephew, Count Paul Strogonoff, fought with great bravery against the Turks in Moldavia, in 1809, and subsequently, in 1813-14, against France. He was killed under the walls of Laon in the latter year.— To this family belonged Count Gregory Strogonoff, who was successively ambassador at the courts of Madrid, Stockholm, and Constantinople.
Beeton's Men of the Age
His love for the arts & sciences was unquestionable. In this regard, the Count actually could be considered a protector of all Russian talents in the field of painting, sculpture & literature, never hesitating to help them financially. His own art gallery had reached the highest degree of perfection; only the collection of Count Bezborodko could at least in some ways be compared to that of Stroganov. Even at the turn of the 20th century, the gallery at the Stroganov Palace, near the Police Bridge, had not lost its value: the Italian, Spanish & Dutch schools were represented by a series of masterpieces.
Stroganoff Palace now part of Russian Museum
The Palace is now part of Russian Museum and has been fully restored.
One of the few individual dwelling- houses which linger on the Nevsky Prospekt, and which presents us with a fine specimen of the rococo style which Rastrelli so persistently served up at the close of the eighteenth century, is that of the Counts Stroganoff, at the lower quay of the Moika. The Moika [literally, Washing] River is the last of the semicircular, concentric canals which intersect the Nevsky and its two radiating companion Prospekts, and impart to that portion of the city which is situated on the (comparative) mainland a resemblance to an outspread fan, whose palm-piece is formed by the Admiralty on the Neva quay. The stately pile, and the pompous air of the big, gold-laced Swiss lounging at the entrance on the Nevsky, remind us that the Stroganoff family has been a power in Russian history since the middle of the sixteenth century. It was a mere handful of their Kazaks, led by Yermak Timofeevitch, who conquered Siberia, in 1581, under Ivan the Terrible, while engaged in repelling the incursions of the Tatars and wild Siberian tribes on the fortified towns which the Str6ganoffs had been authorized to erect on the vast territory at the western foot of the Ural Mountains, conveyed to them by the ancient Tzars. Later on, when Alexei Mikhailovitch, the father of Peter the Great, established a new code, grading punishments and fines by classes, the highest money tax assessed for insult and injury was fifty rubles ; but the Str6ganoffs were empowered to exact one hundred rubles.
Scribners Magazine, 1892