Biographies Russian Architects 19th Century Heinrich Stackenschneider

Heinrich Stackenschneider

Born: 1802, Myza-Ivanovka (St Petersburg Province)
Died: 1865, Moscow

Heinrich (Andrei Ivanovich) Stackenschneider was born at his father’s mill near Gatchina in 1802. He was the grandson of a tanner from Brunswick brought to Russia by Paul I. A lack of money forced him to abandon his studies at the Imperial Academy of Arts, but he was employed as a draughtsman by Auguste de Montferrand, who was building St Isaac’s Cathedral.

Stackenschneider had a hard life of poverty, illness and the difficult work of a draughtsman. As a commoner, he had great difficulty achieving the all-important rank of subaltern officer. But he worked hard and, in 1833, caught the attention of Tsar Nicholas I, who appointed him court architect.

St Petersburg is now impossible to imagine without the creations of Heinrich Stackenschneider. He designed many important landmarks, including the Mariinsky Palace, Beloselsky-Belozersky Palace, Nikolaevsky Palace (now the Palace of Labour) and Novo-Mikhailovsky Palace on Palace Embankment. The architect’s talent flourished in the age of eclecticism, when retrospective styles reigned supreme.

Liberated from the laws of classicism, nineteenth-century architects borrowed freely from whatever style or features of the past seemed the most suitable. The Gothic Revival and Neo-Renaissance styles attracted lovers of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. The sixteenth-century cathedrals of Barma and Postnik inspired Neo-Russian creations. An interest in the orient led to the Moorish style. Bartolomeo Francesco Rastrelli’s masterpieces were responsible for the Neo-Baroque.

Stackenschneider was a brilliant master of eclecticism, who usually worked in a Neo-Renaissance or Neo-Baroque style. Yet his talent was so unique and unconventional, combining majestic exteriors with magnificent interiors, that it only seems fair to speak of a special “Stackenschneider style.”

Heinrich Stackenschneider died in Moscow on 8 August 1865.

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