This print is one of a set of three produced at the Russian 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.
In the first decades of St Petersburg’s history, Peter the Great ordered the nobility to construct residences in his new capital. Among the many noble houses shown in this view, the largest and grandest belonged to Count Fyodor Matveevich Apraksin (1661–1728), Admiral General of the Russian navy. It was designed by the French architect Jean-Baptiste Alexandre Leblond (1679–1719), who was invited to Russia in 1716 by Peter the Great and given the title “Architect-General”. Le Blond created an ambitious plan for Peter’s new city but died suddenly in 1719, before it could be executed. The Apraksin Palace was finished in 1725 and was Le Blond’s major completed work in St Petersburg. Less than ten years later, it was demolished to make way for Empress Anna Ioannovna’s new Winter Palace.
At the far left of the sheet is Peter the Great’s own Winter Palace – a comparatively modest two-storey building designed by Georg Johann Mattarnovi (d.1719), one of the most prolific architects in Petrine St Petersburg.