Who was Vasili Bazhenov?
Vasily Ivanovich Bazhenov was a Russian neoclassical architect, graphic artist, architectural theorist and educator. Bazhenov and his associates Matvey Kazakov and Ivan Starov were the leading local architects of the Russian Enlightenment, a period dominated by foreign architects. According to Dmitry Shvidkovsky, in the 1770s Bazhenov became the first Russian architect to create a national architectural language since the 17th century tradition interrupted by Peter I of Russia.
Bazhenov's early success was followed by a tragic professional and private life. His two main construction projects were abandoned for political or financial reasons. His magnum opus, the neoclassical Grand Kremlin Palace, was cancelled shortly after groundbreaking. The imperial palace in Tsaritsyno Park fell victim to the Battle of the palaces; Bazhenov's palace core were demolished to the order of Catherine II. Another project, for the Moscow State University building, ended in a bitter conflict with Bazhenov's former benefactor Prokofi Demidov and led Bazhenov into bankruptcy. Before his death, Bazhenov implored his children to stay aside from the treacherous construction business.
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