The first equestrian statue in Russia. The monument to Peter I by sculptor Rastrelli, Francesco Rastrelli's father, was installed in front of the main entrance to the Mikhailovsky Castle by order of the Emperor Paul in 1800.
Originally, the monument was supposed to be placed on the square in front of the building of Twelve Colleges (in front of the eastern facade of the University, on the Spit of Vasilyevsky Island). But Peter's daughter Empress Elizabeth did not like the statue and for several decades it was placed in the Liteyny dvor.
Peter was portrayed as the commander-triumphant, powerful and menacing. He is crowned with a laurel wreath, a symbol of glory. He holds the rod-general in his right hand. Ermine mantle falls on the sword hilt on which the image of a lion is drawn. Instead of the saddle is the blanket decorated with tassels. The horse stands majestically and solemnly.
Tetrahedral pedestal (architect F. Volkov) is lined with marble slabs of pink, green and white colors. The pedestal is decorated with bronze bas-reliefs depicting the decisive battles of the Northern War: the Battle of Poltava (1709) and the Battle of Gangut (1714). These bas-reliefs were created by a group of sculptors led by M. Kozlovsky.
On the bas-reliefs depicting the Battle of Poltava, Tsar Peter is portrayed on the first plan, turning to A. Menshikov, points with a sword to the retreating Swedes (who, as Peter wrote about this battle, "had shown their spine"). On the left side of the bas-relief a wounded Swedish king Karl XII, who was carried away from the field on a stretcher. In the sky genius of victory soars, they trumpeted the glory of Russian troops.
On the other bas-relief the Battle of Gangut (now the peninsula is called Hanko) is presented. On the left side Peter on the flagship is shown. On the right side Russian sailors on the board of the captured Swedish ship raise the flag of Russia.
By order of Paul I on a pedestal there was made a signature "to great-grandfather from great-grandson," and the year of installation is specified - "1800".
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