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Anniversary of the grand opening of the Monument to Catherine II in St. Petersburg

6 December 1873

November 24 (December 6), 1873 on Alexandrinskaya Square (now Ostrovski Square) in St. Petersburg was inaugurated the monument to Empress Catherine II.

In 1860 the Academy of Arts held a competition for the construction of the monument to Catherine II to be erected in Tsarskoe Selo. Approved was the project of artist M. O. Mikeshin, author of the monument "Millennium of Russia” in Novgorod. The model of the monument was cast in bronze at the plant of Chopin and sent to the World Exhibition in London, where it was awarded a medal.

In 1863, St. Petersburg Governor General Prince Alexander Suvorov addressed the emperor with a proposal to erect a monument in the public garden opposite the Alexandrinski Theatre ... and the Public Library established by the wise empress". Mikeshin made a new project, more significant in size, different from the model of 1861. By the mid-August 1864 the new model of the monument was completed, having received the imperial approval.

Sculptor M. A. Chizhov designed the statue of Catherine. Figures personalities of Catherine's reign were fashioned by A. M. Opekushin. Cast of bronze sculpture was made in bronze casting plant of Colquhoun (“Nichols and Plinke” company). Architectural draft of the monument was designed by architect D. I. Grimm. In accordance to his design were also made massive lanterns and a fence around the monument of laurel garlands. Ornamental details of lanterns were made in accordance with drawings by architect B. A. Schreter.

The work on the construction of the monument started from June 1869; at the same time the public garden was being created. Four years later, on November 24 (December 6), 1873 in a special atmosphere of solemnity in the presence of the royal family took place the grand opening of the monument to Empress Catherine II.

Colossal statue of the empress, dressed in a long mantle, falling in heavy folds, is set on a bell-shaped pedestal.

At the base of the monument to Catherine II are prominent figures of Russia of the second half of the 18th century: diplomat, Prince A. A. Bezborodko; educator I. I. Betskoi; President of the Russian Academy, Princess E. R. Dashkova; poet and statesman G. R . Derzhavin; General-in-chief, Count A. G. Orlov-Chesmensky; General Field Marshal, Prince G. A. Potyomkin-Tavricheski; General Field-Marshal, Count P. A. Rumyantsev-Zadunaisky; Generalissimo A. V. Suvorov-Rymniksky; Admiral V.Ya. Chichagov.

Over the board with the inscription "To the Empress Catherine II, in the reign of Emperor Alexander II,  1873” there are the attributes of sciences, arts, agriculture, military, land and maritime affairs; the book, which stands in the midst of these attributes, has the title "The Law".

The creation of the monument took 3 100 poods of bronze, which equals to almost 50 tons. The total height of the monument is 14.9 m, the height of the sculpture of Catherine II is 4.2 m, the height of the pedestal – 10.7 m.

Lit.: Пирютко Ю. М. Под скипетром Екатерины: Памятник Екатерине II в С.-Петербурге. СПб.; Калининград, 2002; Смагина Г. И. Памятник Екатерине II в Санкт-Петербурге // Екатерина Великая: эпоха российской истории: В память 200-летия со дня смерти Екатерины II (1729-1796) к 275-летию АН: Тез. докл.: Междунар. конф., СПб., 26-29 авг. 1996 г. СПб., 1996; Ягодкин В. Сонм приближённых [Электронный ресурс] // Царскосельская газета. 7 сентября 2002. № 70 (9392); То же [Электронный ресурс]. URL: http://www.pushkin-town.net/.gazeta/3704.html.

From the Presidential library materials:

Желябужский Е. Д. Императрица Екатерина II и её знаменитые сподвижники. М., 1874;

Шимановский Ф. Воспоминания об императрице Екатерине II по случаю открытия ей памятника 24 ноября 1873 г. СПб., 1873.