Smolny Convent--page 2 (of two pages)

Bartolomeo Rastrelli
1754; interiors completed by Vasily Stasov in 1835


Interior of the Cathedral looking toward the shallow apse with the iconostasis


The dome and peering into the lantern


Looking back toward the entrance


Elegant details


The monastery plan (only truly visible from above)

George Heard Hamilton explains that "Rastrelli devised a vast plan of conventual structures arranged in a Greek cross with domed pavilions at the domed re-entrant angles repeating in diminished proportions the form of the cathedral in the centre. . . .he intended the general silhouette to resemble the great monastic establishments of medieval Russia. The many domes and lanterns would have recreated the impression of churches rising behind their fortified walls" (282). The unusually tall tower he had planned for the main entrance was never built.

Conventual buildings with dome visible at re-entrant angle


Detail of a side bay

The ground floor is rusticated, common in Baroque architecture, with the appearance of quoins at the corners. Here pilasters also have decorative sculpture. The piano nobile has an elaborate window with highly eccentric molding. It has the appearance of an aedicule, complete with iron balustrade, but with discontinuous molding. The window appears to have double molding at the top with the second pediment actually touching the molding of the oval window above it--a mezzanine level? At the top of this bay the pediment is also broken. Art historians often allude to Borromini in describing the works of Rastrelli. For me, this profusion of eccentric detail seems almost to be a "Mannerist" baroque.

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Works Consulted or Quoted:
William Craft Brumfield. A History of Russian Architecture. Seattle: University of Washington P, 2004.
George Heard Hamilton. The Art and Architecture of Russia. New Haven: Yale UP, 1983.
Shvidkovsky, Dmitri. St. Petersburg: Architecture of the Tsars. London: Abbeville P, 1996. With fabulous photographs by Alexander Orloff.

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© 2017 Mary Ann Sullivan. I have photographed (on site) and manipulated all the images on these pages. Please feel free to use them for personal or educational purposes. They are not available for commercial purposes.