Biographies Russian Architects 18th Century Bartolomeo Carlo Rastrelli

Bartolomeo Carlo Rastrelli

Born: 1675, Florence
Died: 1744, St Petersburg

Italian sculptor, architect. Father of Bartolomeo Francesco Rastrelli. Bartolomeo Carlo Rastrelli was born in Florence in 1675. He studied as an architect in Florence, Rome and Paris. In 1716, when he was in Paris, he was invited to Russia by Peter the Great. His contract with the Russian government lists all his talents – architectural projects, stone and bronze sculptures, medals, coins and theatrical designs.

Peter the Great was in great need of an architect and Rastrelli was immediately asked to start work on the park at Strelna. But the Italian was unable to compete with Jean-Baptiste-Alexandre Le Blond, who became his bitter rival. For this reason, Rastrelli decided to abandon architecture and confine himself to sculpture.

Although his son Bartolomeo Francesco later surpassed him in architectural mastery, Bartolomeo Carlo Rastrelli went on to become one of the finest sculptors in Russia. He sculpted a bust of Prince Alexander Menshikov (1717), several portraits of Peter I, the monumental sculpture of Anna Ioannovna with an Arab Boy (1741) and the equestrian statue of Peter the Great outside St Michael’s Castle in St Petersburg (1800).

Bartolomeo Carlo Rastrelli worked a great deal at Peterhof, creating dozens of fountains inspired by Aesop’s fables. Such thematic fountains were popular in the eighteenth century, when gardens were expected to be not only places of relaxation, but also sources of knowledge, enriching the mind. Fountains were accompanied by explanatory inscriptions, identifying the heroes and the moral of the story. Rastrelli sketched the designs for such sculptural groups as The Fox and the Crow, The Mountain That Brought Forth a Mouse and The Snake Gnawing the Anvil.

Bartolomeo Carlo Rastrelli died in St Petersburg in 1744.

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