This print is one of a set of three produced at the Academy of Sciences at the end of the 1720s. Though published during the short reign of Peter II (1715–30), the series gives an insight into St Petersburg at the end of Peter the Great’s life (1672–1725), after 25 years of intense development.
The view shows some of the houses on this stretch of the Neva belonging to the nobility, including that of Count Platon Ivanovich Musin-Pushkin (1698–1743), an important statesman and diplomat who would become Privy Councillor under Empress Anna Ioannovna (1693–1740). At the far left of the sheet is the entrance to the Summer Garden, which had been planned in a formal Dutch style under Peter the Great and was intended to create a new urban social space for the court and elite, but was opened to a broader public during court festivities. Next to the garden is the Palace of Prince Dimitrie Cantemir (1673–1723), the Moldovan leader who defected during the Russo-Ottoman war of 1710–11 and became an important figure in Petrine Russia. The Emperor himself decided the location of major buildings in the city and gave Cantemir this esteemed plot. The palace was the first independent work of Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli (1700–71), who would go on to design some of the most famous buildings in the city. It was built between 1720 and 1725, and though Cantemir died before the palace was finished, it was inherited by his widow and children, who continued to play prominent roles in Russian society.
The carefully depicted buildings, which are numbered and identified with a key, are dominated by an enormous raft in the foreground featuring several working figures, a barn, hut and even a horse and cart.