Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Nicola Demidoff

Monument to Nicola Demidoff (Nikolai Nikitich Demidov) by Lorenzo Bartolini
Piazza Demidoff
Florence, October 2013

“Nikolai Demidov served as chamberlain to the Tsar, a Hereditary Commander of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, and member of the privy council. In 1819 he was made Russian ambassador to the court of Tuscany. After divorcing his wife, who moved back to France, he lived his last years in France and Italy among scholars, financing the creation of schools, hospitals and other charitable institutions in Tuscany. He bought 42 acres (170,000 m2) of marshland north of Florence from the Catholic Church and there built the Villa San Donato from 1827 to 1831 (now destroyed), where he set up richly-decorated private rooms, a suite of 14 rooms housing his enormous art collection, a theatre and a foreign languages academy. That collection, reputed among the most lavish private collections in Europe, was divided between his residences in San Donato, Saint-Petersburg, Paris and Moscow, included works by Flemish and Italian masters, decorative art objects and a famous collection of weapons now in the Wallace Collection in London. His collection of ancient Greek and Roman sculptures is now at the Hermitage Museum. By decree of Leopold II, Grand Duke of Tuscany, on 23 February 1827 Demidov was made ‘count of San Donato’ for the services he had rendered to Tuscany by setting up a silk factory. A public Monument to Nicola Demidoff designed by Lorenzo Bartolini is located on ‘Piazza Demidoff’ overlooking the river Arno in Oltrarno.” (Nikolai Nikitich Demidov, Wikipedia)