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HOMEFOREIGN ST. PETERSBURGITALIAN ST. PETERSBURGGREAT ITALIANS IN ST. PETERSBURGCARLO DI GIOVANNI ROSSI

Carlo di Giovanni Rossi

Portrait of Carlo di Giovanni Rossi by B. S. Mityar, 1820

Architect

Born: Naples - 18 December 1775
Died: St. Petersburg - 6 April 1849

Carlo Rossi was the undisputed master of Empire style architecture in St. Petersburg, and his large-scale projects are responsible for some of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring vistas in the city. He first came to Russia in childhood, when his mother, the ballerina Gertruda Rossi, was invited to perform in St. Petersburg. He studied and worked with Vincenzo Brenna, before returning to Italy to complete his studies.

In 1806, he qualified as an architect, and his first major project was the neo-gothic St. Catherine Church in Moscow's Kremlin (destroyed by the Bolsheviks). He then reconstructed Catherine the Great's Travelling Palace in Tver in 1809. He returned to St. Petersburg in 1815, and the next year he was made a member of the Committee for Building and Hydraulic Works. He worked on the reconstruction of the Anichkov Palace (1816) and designed several pavilions in Pavlovsk (1815-1822), but his first major project was the Yelagin Palace, along with its conservatory and pavilions (1816-1818).

The arch of the General Staff Building in Saint-Petersburg, Russia
Panorama of Palace Square with Rossi's General Staff Building in St Petersburg, Russia
Yelagin Palace built by Carlo Rossi on Yelagin Island in St Petersburg, Russia
Senate and Synod Building designed by Rossi on Senate Square in Saint-Petersburg, Russia

Over the following decade, Rossi did little less than single-handedly reconstruct the entire appearance of St. Petersburg as a city. His masterpieces were not simply single buildings, but involved reconstructing whole swathes of the city centre around landmark focal buildings. The first such project was the Mikhailovskiy Palace (now the State Russian Museum) along with Mikhailovskiy Ploshchad (now Ploshchad Iskusstv or "Arts Square"), its garden, and the streets running off it (1819-1825). Simultaneously, he was designing the vast General Staff Building on Palace Square, and he completed reconstruction of Manezhnaya Ploshchad (1823-1824). He went on to complete two similarly monumental projects - Senatskaya Ploshchad ("Senate Square") and the Senate and Synod Building (1829-1834), and the Alexandrinsky Theatre, along with Alexandrinskaya Ploshchad, the Russian National Library and Teatralnaya Ulitsa, renamed Ulitsa Zodchego Rossi ("Street of the Architect Rossi") in his honour (1829-1832).

In 1832, Rossi argued with the Emperor and his advisors. Granted his own box in the Alexandrinsky Theatre close to the Imperial Box, the architect had supplemented his income by renting it out to the highest bidders. This Nicholas I found utterly unacceptable and rescinded the grant. Rossi retired from his profession and disappeared completely from public life. He died, seemingly of cholera, in 1849 and was buried in the Volkovskoye Lutheran Cemetery. During the Soviet era, his tomb and remains were transferred to the Alexander Nevsky Monastery.

Mikhailovsky Palace (the Russian Museum) on Arts Square in St Petersburg, Russia
Alexandrinsky Theatre on Ploshchad Ostrovskogo in St Petersburg, Russia
Rossi's marvel – Ulitsa Zodchego Rossi, where the Golden Ratio was used to establish proportions in St Petersburg, Russia
Carlo Rossi's Russian National Library building on Ploshchad Ostrovskogo in St Petersburg, Russia

Works: Anichkov Palace, Yelagin Palace, Mikhailovsky Palace (State Russian Museum), Mikhailovskaya Ploshchad, General Staff Building, Manezhnaya Ploshchad, Mikhailovsky Manezh (Winter Stadium), Mikhailovsky Castle Stables, Senatskaya Ploshchad (Senate Square), Senate and Synod Building, Alexandrinsky Theatre, Alexandrinskaya Ploshchad, Russian National Library, Ulitsa Zodchego Rossi, Univeristy of Culture (Saltykov House), Coffee House in the Summer Garden, Ministry of Internal Affairs

Monuments and memorials: Monument to Italian Architects on Manezhnaya Ploshchad, Tomb in the Alexander Nevsky Monastery

Addresses: 11, Italyanskaya Ulitsa (1838)

Connected with: Vincenzo Brenna, Stepan Pimenov, Vasiliy Demuth Malinovsky

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