The Kuskovo Estate is situated in Moscow, in the Perovsky District, and dates back from the mid-18th century. This was the summer residence of the Sheremetev noble family, and it is one of the few manors of its type that have survived to this day. At present, the Russian State Museum of Ceramics has taken hold of the Sheremetev estate, while the park surrounding the edifice is one of the main recreational spaces in Moscow – being intensely visited by locals, and not only.
The estate is the result of the creative minds of architects F. Argunov, A. Mironov, G. Dikushin, and K. Blank, and consists of various edifices, among which we mention the Palace, the Church, the Hermitage, the Grotto, and the Italian and Dutch Houses – all of which have been preserved to this day. The Kuskovo Estate also comprises a beautiful park, designed after the French model, which consists of several meres, pavilions and statuettes made out of marble.
The architectural design of the palace is representative of Early Classicism, but Baroque details are also noticeable. The palace is actually made out of wood, the only exception making the ground floor which is constructed out of stone. The interior of the palace is maintained to its original 18th century design and visitors can admire a one-of-a-kind collection of paintings, among which we will find various representations of the Russian Tsars. These were actually presented as royal gifts to the Sheremetev noblemen.
The Grotto was constructed between 1755 and 1761, after the design of architect F. Argunov. The construction is truly impressive as it is beautifully adorned. The pavilion follows the Baroque architectural style and it is embellished by means of sculptures (in the niches) and lions’ heads above the windows. The façade of this construction is ornamented with special decorative stones (travertine) and colored glass. All these elements used in the construction and decoration of the edifice are meant to emphasize the architect’s vision: that the Grotto would be perceived as a symbol of aquatic and stone elements.
The Hermitage was designed by K. Blank and it was erected in one-year time (1765-1766). The baroque edifice was extremely intimate, as only a small circle of people could get access to it. The servants were not permitted to enter – but, in order to provide the noblemen with the necessary items, special machines were developed so as to transport these items (food, drinks, and the like). The Hermitage is actually one of the most impressive edifices of the 18th century which has managed to survive the passage of time.
The Kuskovo Estate was transformed into a State Museum in 1919. By 1938, it had been supplemented with an impressive number of ceramic works of art, in as much as at present, the Museum hold one of the largest collections of ceramics and glass. The objects are representative for various historical times – dating from the ancient times and going through all the periods until reaching contemporaneity.
But the items are not solely of Russian origin, the museum comprising different works of art from all over the world: Italy (tin-glazed pottery), Venice, England (glass), China (porcelains). The museum is also renowned for the inimitable Russian porcelains created between the 18th and the 20th centuries.
The park was developed over a considerable number of years (from 1750 up until 1780) and it followed the French garden design. This means that the park consists of immense parterres – formal garden construction which comprises sections of flowers, hedges and alleys, all carefully organized so as to form a unity. Other decorative elements noticeable in the park are sculptures, large vases, and various types of trees which are trimmed so as to create beautiful spherical arrangements.
The 1770s brought about the construction of another garden – this one developed as an English park – in the continuation of the already exiting French garden (in the northern side). This was an idyllic representation of nature as it consisted of pathways constructed in zigzag, foliage passageways, lawns and orchards of trees. But unfortunately, this park is no longer standing, the only remaining part of the English landscape garden being the Hermitage.