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Annoyed by gossip about his beautiful peasant wife, Count Nikolai Petrovich Sheremetev decided to leave Kuskovo and look for privacy in the nearby village of Ostankino, where the Sheremetev family had another estate. Here are views of Kuskovo. He inherited it from his mother, former Princess Varvara Mikhailovna Cherkasskaia. As a young man the count showed great interest in music, theater and the arts in general. When he decided to build a new mansion at Ostankino, he had it in mind to have in it his own theater, a library and halls for his collection of paintings. Sheremetev consulted several architects, domestic and foreign, but, in the absence of specific information, the question of who finally did design the wooden mansion remains unanswered. Most often art historians speak of Guarenghi, Blanc, Camporesi, Starov, Nazarov and even of Bazhenov, or conjecture that they all contributed something toward the new home of Count Sheremetev, nicknamed "Croesus, Junior" because of his enormous wealth. Guarenghi's involvement in the planning of the mansion could be explained by the fact that he had won first prize in the first architectural contest in Russia, and the count would not miss the chance to have a winner design his new building. The actual construction lasted quite a long time, from 1791 to 1799, and according to documents was supervised by the count's own serf master-builder A. Mironov and P. Argunov, the brother of the painter N. Argunov. The mansion was built in a modified imitation of the style of luxurious Roman villas, locally known as "Moscow classicism." Here also we see Ionic orders decorating the facade and large dome on top of the central part of the building. Foreign visitors mention the interior decoration, done with great care and taste, with carved wood as main element. Vases, candelabra and even delicate chandeliers that look as if they were made of bronze, are nothing but gilded carved wood.
Particular attention was paid to the decoration of the Theater Hall, located in the center of the mansion. The count admired his beautiful actress-wife, Praskovia Zhemchugova nee P. I. Kovaleva, and did not spare expense to please her. Some of the best drama, ballet, opera and concert performances in Moscow were given right in that hall. Shremetev had established a special school, where Russian and foreign teachers trained his artists, singers and dancers. Most of them were serfs, as was his wife; they received a complete education that sometimes included a fair amount of French and Italian. Soviet art historians usually exaggerate when they describe the life of these serf-artists as miserable, and they neglect to say that they were offered an adequate opportunity to develop their talents and in some instances were granted freedom. Besides the count's wife, other famous serfs were the ballerina T. V. Granatova (nee Shlikova) and the singer and musician S. A. Degtiarev, who was freed and later became a well-known composer. The oratorio "Minin and Pozharskii" was one of his best works. The huge garden around the mansion, which included an artificial lake and woodland, was quite attractive. Beginning with Paul, all Russian emperors visited Ostankino, and the list of dignitaries included the Polish King Stanislas Ponintowski and King Wilhelm III of Prussia, the father in law of Nicholas I. During the occupation of Moscow by Napoleon's troops, marshal Ney lived in the mansion. After the revolution the estate was expropriated and then neglected for years, restored in 1935-1946 and finally turned into a museum.
To the south of the mansion is the Trinity Church, an interesting example of the best in Moscow church architecture. It was built in 1678-1683, most probably by the serf-builders of Prince N. A. Cherkaskii. The church has the traditional kokoshniki and five cupolas, but it differs from others because of its two chapels, one on each side, with special entrances and each crowned with a single cupola. The elaborate brick construction is decorated with tiles and white stone, which became very popular during the period of the Moscow baroque.
Here is the main facade. More illustrations are at Interiors.

  ostankino exteror  



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