Biographies Russian Architects 18th Century Georg Friedrich von Veldten

Georg Friedrich von Veldten

Born: 1730, St Petersburg
Died: 1801, St Petersburg

Architect. Born in St Petersburg in the family of a German immigrant called Georg Veldten (1730). Worked for the Chancellery of Construction (from 1762). Designed the Old Hermitage, Çesme Palace, Çesme Chapel, St Catherine’s Church on Vasilyevsky Island, Armenian Church on Nevsky Prospekt, St John the Baptist’s Chapel on Stone Island and the railings of the Summer Garden and the Neva embankments. Designed the Stone Island Palace (1776–80) as the suburban residence of the future Paul I. Professor (1772), director of the Imperial Academy of Arts (1789–94). Died in St Petersburg (1801).

Georg Friedrich von Veldten was the same age as Jean-Baptiste-Michel Vallin de la Mothe – he was born a year later and died a year later – but enjoyed a happier fate. A relative of Peter’s chef, Johann Veldten, and the son of a steward at the Academy of Sciences, he was born in St Petersburg in 1730. He studied at the grammar school of the Imperial Academy of Sciences and at the University of Tübingen, where he acquired a taste for architecture. In 1749, he decided to return to Russia and train as an architect.

From 1752 to 1762, Veldten worked under Bartolomeo Francesco Rastrelli as a draughtsman. After qualifying as an architect, he worked for the Chancellery of Construction, where he was awarded many different commissions. He designed churches, mansions and manorhouses, but three projects brought him everlasting fame – the Old Hermitage, the Çesme Church, and the iron railings of the Summer Garden.

Veldten’s most important commission was possibly the one on which he spent his entire life – the main squares and architectural ensemble of St Petersburg. Besides Palace Square, he also designed the site of the Bronze Horseman and worked much in Peterhof, where he restored the Grotto and engaged in construction work near Monplaisir.

Towards the end of his life, Veldten was elected first professor and then rector of the Imperial Academy of Arts. He died in St Petersburg in 1801.

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