The Stroganov Palace is a Late Baroque palace was built to Bartolomeo Rastrelli's designs for Baron Sergei Grigoriyevich Stroganov in 1753-1754. The interiors were remodeled by Andrei Voronikhin at the turn of the 19th century. The first house for the Stroganovs was built on the site probably in 1720s. It was a building of one storey. Аrchitect Mikhail Zemtsov erected a second two-storey house in the 1740s.
In 1752 Baron Sergei Stroganov commissioned the palace design from Italian architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli, then at work extending the Catherine Palace and building the Smolny Convent for Empress Elisabeth. Since the Stroganovs were the richest family in Russia and were related to the Empress by marriage, Rastrelli could not turn down the commission and hastily prepared a design for the townhouse.
Like the Vorontsov Palace (also designed by Rastrelli for Stroganov's in-law Mikhail Vorontsov), the Stroganov Palace was not rapidly built. The Main Staircase decorated with marble sculptures led to the elegant Grand Hall, which featured a huge painting by Venetian artist Giuseppe Valeriani. After Sergei Stroganov's death in 1756, the decoration was completed by his son Alexander in 1760. Within several years, the new empress, Catherine II introduced the Neoclassical taste. The style was also championed by Alexander Stroganov, who became President of the Imperial Academy of Arts in 1800.
In the 1790s and 1800s decades, architect Andrei Voronikhin was charged with refurbishing the interiors in the Neoclassical style. Voronikhin's mother was the Stroganovs' serf, and it was rumored that his father was Alexander Stroganov. The first suites by Voronikhin were the Mineral Study, Picture Gallery, Library and Alexander Stroganov's Physics Cabinet. Another two enfilades in the west wing were created for Pavel Stroganov, of which the Small Drawing Room survives.
After Alexander Stroganov died in 1811, the palace passed to his son Pavel. Pavel Stroganov had four daughters, but his only son was killed in the Battle of Craonne. He then established the Stroganov entail, i.e., a non-divisible estate which would pass to the oldest family member. This chain of ownership was preserved until 1919 when the last Count Sergei Stroganov sold his rights to the entail. A new apartment was decorated for Aglaida Pavlovna Stroganov by Carlo Rossi in 1820 (it later disappeared almost totally). After the October Revolution in 1917, the remaining Stroganovs emigrated from Russia, and the palace was nationalized. The family line is now extinct.
The Soviets declared the palace a national museum chronicling the lifestyle of the Russian nobility. In 1929 the museum was shut down, and much of its contents (including some priceless paintings) were taken to the Hermitage Museum. The palace was handed over to a botanical institute. The Ministry of Shipbuilding occupied the premises for half a century, starting in 1939.
In 1988 the palace was given to the Russian Museum and became a branch housing some of its exhibitions. The dilapidated building underwent a thorough and painstaking restoration process between 1991 and the present moment. In keeping with Rastrelli's original design, its walls are now painted light pink (rather than dark green, as they were in the mid-20th century). It is one of the few Baroque structures on Nevsky Prospect to preserve its original appearance.References:
The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.
Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.
The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.
As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).