Matvey Kazakov – Russian architect
Matvey Fydorovich Kazakov was one of the greatest Russian architects of the late eighteenth century, who during the reign of Catherine II rebuilt the center of Moscow in the Palladian style.
His first masterpiece was the Petrovskii Transit Palace (1775-82) (now Zhukovsky Air Force Academy). The palace combined the fashion for the Gothic revival with motifs drawn from medieval Russian architecture. Less successful was Kazakov’s design for a palace at Tsaritsyno (begun in 1786).
Kazakov was born in 1738 in Moscow. His family lived near the Kremlin, near Borovitsky bridge. After the death of the father he entered the architectural school. In March 1751 Kazakov became a pupil at known architect D. Ukhtomsky’s school.
In 1776-87 Kazakov produced one of the most important state buildings of Catherine’s reign — the Senate in the Kremlin. An accurately organized neo-classic structure was set off against the picturesque grouping and stylistic diversity of the Kremlin buildings. The Senate is crowned with a dome. The rotunda overlooks Red Square. The rotunda was one of Kazakov’s favorite motifs. He applied classical rotunda to a church design. One of the earliest examples of it is his church of the Metropolitan Philip (1777-88) on the Vtoray Meshanskaya street (now Prospect Mira).
In addition to his imperial commissions and churches Kazakov also built Moscow cultural and charitable institutions such as the university and the hospital. The urban context was important for the architect. The university, of 1782-93, largely destroyed in the fire of 1812 and subsequently remoulded by Domenico Gillardi on Mokhovaya Street, and the Golitsyn Hospital of 1794-1801, now the First Municipal hospital on Kaluzhskaya Street, are the examples of it. On an inverted U-shaped plan, they stood out prominently among the surrounding buildings.
Kazakov designed an astonishing range of urban houses. He embellished Tver’s Street with Y.I. Kozitskaya’s house (1790). It was remoulded into a grand department store by its later owners, the Yeliseyev family. Now only the proportions of the walls and of the shape of the windows in the upper storeys recall the original.
Matvey Kazakov was an excellent teacher. In the 1780s he headed the School of Architecture and devoted much time to teaching architect-students.
Kazakov died in Ryazan on October 26, 1812 where the sick architect was brought by his family when the army of Napoleon was marching on Moscow. Matvey Kazakov could not survive the great fire of Moscow (1812) and the destruction of his works.
In 1939 Gorokhovskaya Street in Moscow was renamed after the great Russian architect.