The artists' union “Society of Russian Sculptors” (ORS – Obschestvo Russkih Skulptorov) was created in 1925 in the course of revolutionary ev...
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Санкт-Петербург. Инженерная ул., 4.
Метро: «Невский проспект», «Гостиный двор», «Чернышевская»
Summer Garden is the apple of Peter I’s eye, a gem in the necklace of Saint-Petersburg parks. In 1704 Peter I ordered to set up for him a big garden alike the famous European ones of the time and even sketched its original plan. Russian and foreign architects worked on this project: I.Matveev, D.Trezini, J.-B.Le Blond, A.Sсhluter, М.Zemtsov, F.-B.Rastrelli, landscape designers J.Roosen, I.Surmin, К.Schreder, I.Yakovlev, P.Lukianov and other. Already several years after its foundation Summer Garden became the political and state life center, the spot of court ceremonies and festivals.
The first official layout of the garden was designed by the Dutch gardener Jan Roosen in
The layout of the garden is quite simple: there are three parallel straight alleys going from the Neva, crossed by several perpendicular ones. The garden’s natural borders on the northern and eastern sides are the Neva and the Fontanka rivers. On the western and southern sides the garden is bordered by two artificially dug canals — the Swan Canal and a canal connecting the Fontanka with the head of the Moika river. The northern part of the garden adjoining the palace and designed in a more formal way was called the First Summer Garden. The southern part, apart from decorative elements, comprised outbuildings and an orchard, and was called the Second Summer Garden. The two gardens were separated by the Perpendicular Canal which was, however, not connected to the Fontanka river.
In accordance with the laws of fine gardening, the alleys of the Summer Garden were lined by evenly pruned shrubs, a kind of natural green hedge. Four areas surrounded by hedges — the so-called boskets — comprised various decorative elements. The “Menagery pond” bosket comprised an oval pond with a small island and a gazebo upon it. Another bosket had an Aviary with dovecotes and other small structures for birds. The “Cross Walking Ground” bosket had intersecting winding paths — tunnel-shaped alleys, whose vaults were formed by tree branches covering the specially built frames. In the middle of the intersection was a single-jet fountain decorated with a sculpture. The most elegant bosket was the “French Parterre” with its gilt sculptures, a cascade and a flower garden. The alleys of the First Summer garden were decorated with Italian marble sculptures and busts. There were fountains at the intersections of the central alley with the side alleys.
The Grotto was erected on the bank of the Fontanka river. It was the first structure of this kind in Russia, designed in
A person entering the Grotto found themselves in the magical kingdom of the Sea God, lit up by the rays of sun penetrating through the small skylight. Triton fountains were reflected in big mirrors in the niches. Neptune’s gilt chariot towered up from the top of the mountain made of stones and seashells, and a lion was trapped in a cave under the mountain. (In the Peter I’s time Neptune was symbolic of Peter and the lion symbolized Sweden).
A large part of the Second Summer Garden was occupied by the Labyrinth. Its paths were decorated with gilt lead sculptural groups representing characters from Aesop’s fables.
Another large part of the garden was occupied by different structures. Peter I’s Summer Palace was in the north-eastern corner of the garden (designed by architect D. Trezzini in
Adjoining this palace was an art gallery (architect F. de Vaal), accommodating the collection of works by prominent European artists. The first art gallery was a novelty in Russian cultural life. Unfortunately, neither of the two structures survived.
On the bank of the Neva there were galleries in which tables were laid and dancing organized on special occasions. Later “The hall of glorious celebrations” was added, erected by a talented Russian architect M. Zemtsov for the wedding celebration of Peter I’s daughter Anna and the Duke of Goldstein. In the 1730s the hall was replaced by a wooden palace constructed by F.-B. Rastrelli for Empress Anna Ioannovna.
By the reign of Empress Elizaveta Petrovna the trees had grown stronger and the fountains were duly operating. Designed by Rastrelli, flowerbeds of intricate geometric shapes were put again along the Swan Canal opposite the facade of the Second Summer Palace. From the south the flower garden was bordered by the Amphitheatre — a cascade decorated with sculptural busts of Roman emperors (architect Rastrelli). The focus of subsequent construction works was moved over the Moika, to the Third Summer garden (today’s Mikhailovsky Garden and the garden surrounding Mikhailovsky Castle). There the new Summer Palace of Empress Elizaveta was constructed in the 1740s by architect Rastrelli.
The Golden Age of the Summer Garden — the second half of the XVIII century — eventually passed. Landscape parks became popular in Europe, while old regular parks went out of fashion. Another misfortune in the garden’s history was the destructive inundation of 1777, which badly damaged the plants, statues and fountains. Catherine II ordered replanting of the trees and flowers but the fountains were dismantled. By the beginning of the XIX century the garden lost many of its sculptures and all of the old entertaining structures. Only Peter’s Summer Palace and the dilapidated Grotto were still preserved. On the other hand, it was in Catherine II’s time that the Summer garden received a new decoration — the magnificent railing from the Neva side (architect Felten,
From the day of Empress Catherine II’s decree to build the railing in 1770 it took 16 years to complete the work. The project was amended numerous times. There are more than a dozen sketches reflecting different stages of construction. Putting in piles and laying the foundation started in 1775. The plinth, the columns and the vases on top of them were made of “wild stone”, as red granite from the quarries of Vyborg was called in the XVIII century. Elements of the railing and the gates were cast in iron in the town of Tula. The solemn railing is decorated with gilt bronze ornaments.
Segments of the railing are fixed on 36 poles. The length of the structure is 232 metres. Originally the railing had three gates located opposite the main alleys of the garden. The central gate had a different design. In 1866 the railing became a witness of a historic event — an attempt on Emperor Alexander II’s life. To commemorate the Tsar’s narrow escape from death a chapel was erected on the site of the central gate. The side gates were transferred and put on both sides of the chapel. This distorted the historic face of the gate, which became particularly obvious after the chapel was dismantled in 1930.
In the XIX century the Summer Garden became a favourite walking place of the city residents. It evolved into a public garden “for a well dressed audience”. A lot of maintenance work was done by order of Emperor Nicholas I. In 1826 the remnants of the Grotto were replaced by the Coffee Pavilion designed by architect C. Rossi. In 1827 a wooden Tea Pavilion was built nearby (architect L. Charleman). A cast iron railing was put up on the Moika side of the garden (architects P. Bazen and L. Charleman, 1826). In 1839 a porphiry vase was installed by the southern gate. The vase was a gift of the Swedish King Carl-Johann XIV to Nicholas I. It was made in the Swedish town of Elfdalen and is known as the Elfdalen vase. In 1855 a monument to I.A. Krylov, designed by sculptor P. Klodt, was erected in one of the sections of the garden. It was the first monument to the prominent writer in Russia.
In 1917 the Summer Garden last its “imperial” status.
During the flood of 1924 about 600 trees perished, many statues and busts fell down and were damaged.
From 1934 restoration of the garden was supervised by the directors of the Summer Garden and Peter I’s Palace’ museum complex.
In the first two months of the Great Patriotic War statues and busts were buried underground. An anti-aircraft battery was located in the garden. After the war the Summer Garden was completely restored. The statues and the busts resumed their original place.
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