Scottish Architects in Tsarist Russia

By Howard, Jeremy; Kuznetsov, Sergei | History Today, February 1996 | Go to article overview

Scottish Architects in Tsarist Russia


Howard, Jeremy, Kuznetsov, Sergei, History Today


When the Scots architect William Hastie (1755-1832) designed the so-called Contract House in Kiev in 1815 he was not just carrying out one more commission in his role as head of Tsar Alexander I's town planning service but was involved in creating the most important economic institution in the whole of the Ukraine. For it was this building, Kiev's stock exchange, which was to be home to the annual winter Ukrainian `contract fair' at which contracts were signed for the wholesale trading of everything from handicrafts and manufactured goods to agricultural produce. Contracts were also drawn up here for the purchasing, selling and renting of property and land, loan agreements, dowries, wills and many other financial affairs. And far from being of purely domestic concern the fair was an international event, attracting landowners and merchants from as far afield as Britain, France, Denmark, Greece, Austria and Prussia. At the same time it was significant for the local population in that it provided the venue and occasion for a unique assembly of the nobility of the vast region. One of its prime reasons for meeting during the fair was to conduct local elections.

Hastie's Contract House (1815-17) was the first stone building of note to be constructed in the ancient Podil quarter of Kiev after a catastrophic fire in the summer of 1811 had reduced the area, and with it well over half the residential edifices of the city, to ashes. Hastie, who had been working in Russia for nearly thirty years by this time, was initially brought in to plan the redevelopment of the Podil and this he did in 1812. Towards the end of that year he arrived in Kiev to see with his own eyes how the regular plan of wide, straight streets and squares he had drawn up in St Petersburg could be adapted to the site conditions. However, the war with Napoleon interrupted the realisation of the plan and only in 1815 could work begin on the Contract House which was to be constructed on the new Contract Square on the site of the old City Council building.

Originally intended by Hastie to be the right-hand part of a symmetrical complex of buildings with the City Council in the middle and the Post Office to the left, the Contract House was built in a restrained, strictly geometrical, Doric style with two colonnaded facades facing the centre of the square. It consisted of two floors, on the second of which Hastie created a concert hall, a key musical venue in nineteenth-century Kiev. This was to host performances by ballet troupes from Madrid, Italian opera companies, the Belgian cellist Servais, the beautiful Italian soprano Angelica Catalani, and, perhaps most significantly, Franz Liszt. Liszt's first performance in the city, in late january 1847, coincided with the Contract Fair. The majority of the audience consisted of those who had converged to conduct their annual business in Hastie's building. Their appreciation of Liszt's concert was to have far-reaching consequences for the musical world: for among those present were the business contacts of Princess Carolyne von Sayn-Wittgenstein, one of the richest landowners in the Ukraine, and herself in Kiev for the fair. They persuaded the Princess to attend Liszt's second concert on February 2nd, whereupon the two met, fell in love, and within a year were living together in Weimar, Liszt having given up his career as a travelling virtuoso to concentrate on composition.

Hastie's role in establishing the architectural face of modern Russia was literally monumental. But it was not an isolated occurrence, for the Scots' influences stretched from medicine to freemasonry, from the flax trade to the iron industry, from Walter Scott's impact on literature to Samuel Greig's command of Catherine the Great's navy. Yet it was in architecture above all else that Scotland was to provide the most important visible changes in the Russian Empire. This said, architectural historians have tended to concentrate almost exclusively on the Russian career of Charles Cameron, Catherine's court architect, without fully recognising his place or legacy in the architecture that came after him. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Scottish Architects in Tsarist Russia
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.