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Antonio Rinaldi

Portrait of Antonio Rinaldi painted by Lucas Conrad Pfanzelt

Architect
Born: Italy - c.1709
Died: Rome - 10 April 1794

One of the leading architects in St. Petersburg in the second half of the 18th century, Antonio Rinaldi had a long career that spanned the tail-end of the baroque period and the early years of neoclassicism.

Rinaldi was presumably born in the south of Italy, and trained by the great Neapolitan architect Luigi Vanvitelli, to whose academic simplicity and rejection of rococo excesses Rinaldi remained true. He arrived in St. Petersburg via Ukraine, where he had worked for Hetman Kirill Razumovsky, and in 1754 was appointed court architect for the young court of the future Peter III and Catherine II. At their residence in Oranienbaum he built the Palace of Peter III (1758-1760), the Chinese Palace (1762-1768), and the Ice-Slide Pavilion (1762-1774). Rinaldi's reputation rests almost as much on his interior designing as his architecture, and the superbly decorated halls of the Chinese Palace were among the first of his masterpieces in this area.

  • The Sliding Hill (Katalnaya Gorka) Pavilion at Oranienbaum Imperial Estate, west of St Petersburg, Russia
    The Sliding Hill (Katalnaya Gorka) Pavilion at Oranienbaum
  • Chinese Palace built by Antonio Rinaldi at Oranienbaum, outside St Petersburg, Russia
    Chinese Palace built by Antonio Rinaldi at Oranienbaum
  • Terraces in front of the Grand Menshikov Palace at Oranienbaum, west of Saint-Petersburg, Russia
    Terraces in front of the Grand Menshikov Palace at Oranienbaum

His first major commission in the city of St. Petersburg was, uncharacteristically, an industrial building - the Tuchkov Buyan Hemp Warehouses (1763-1772). He then became the court architect for Catherine's favourite, Count Grigory Orlov, designing for him the Gatchina Palace (1766-1781, later redesigned by Vincenzo Brenna) and his undisputed masterpiece the Marble Palace (1768-1785), one of the finest early neoclassical buildings in St. Petersburg. Also for Orlov, he designed several monuments and structures at Tsarskoye Selo, among them the Kagul Obelisk (1771), the Chesma Column (1776), and the Chinese Theatre (1776).

  • Marble Palace built by Rinaldi on Palace Embankment in St Petersburg, Russia
    Marble Palace built by Rinaldi on Palace Embankment
  • Interiors of the Marble Palace in Saint-Petersburg, Russia
    Interiors of the Marble Palace

During this period he supervised the completion of two major churches in St. Petersburg, the Catholic Church of St. Catherine on Nevsky Prospekt (completed 1782) and the Prince Vladimir Cathedral (1766-1773). Outside St. Petersburg he was also responsible for two sublime baroque churches, the Church of the Resurrection in Pochel, Bryansk Region (1765-1771) and the St. Catherine Cathedral in Kingisepp (1764). While working on the stone building of the Bolshoy Theatre in 1775, Rinaldi fell from scaffolding and was unable to complete the project.

Rinaldi resigned his post due to ill health in 1784 and returned to Italy, where he died in 1794.

  • Chinese Pavilion designed by Rinaldi at Tsarskoye Selo, south of St Petersburg, Russia
    Chinese Pavilion designed by Rinaldi at Tsarskoye Selo
  • Chesma Column at Tsarskoye Selo, suburban royal estate south of St Petersburg
    Chesma Column at Tsarskoye Selo, suburban imperial estate
  • Grand Palace in Gatchina (south of St Petersburg) designed by Antonio Rinaldi
    Grand Palace in Gatchina
  • Prince Vladimir Cathedral on the Petrograd Side in St Petersburg, Russia
    Prince Vladimir Cathedral on the Petrograd Side
  • Tuchkov Buyan warehouse on the Petrograd Side in Saint-Petersburg, Russia
    Tuchkov Buyan warehouse on the Petrograd Side

Works: Tuchkov Buyan Warehouses, Marble Palace, Catholic Church of St. Catherine, Prince Vladimir Cathedral, Palace of Peter III (Oranienbaum), Chinese Palace (Oranienbaum), Ice-slide Pavilion (Oranienbaum), Kagul Obelisk (Tsarskoye Selo), Chesma Column (Tsarskoye Selo), Chinese Theatre (Tsarskoye Selo), Grand Palace (Gatchina)

Monuments and memorials: Monument to Italian Architects on Manezhnaya Ploshchad

Connected with: Peter III, Catherine II the Great, Count Grigory Orlov

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