While taking advantage of some vacation time, we wanted to share with our readers Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to the main house of the Museum estate of one of Russia’s earliest national poets, Gavril Derzhavin, in Saint Petersburg on Friday, 20 June.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (L) at the main house of the Derzhavin Museum, accompanied by Sergei Nekrasov of the National Pushkin Museum.
Poet Gavrila Romanovich Derzhavin was born near Kazan, Russia into a Tatar family of very modest means. After failing to complete high school he joined the Russian military (Preobrazhensky Guards) and rose through the ranks to eventually become an officer.
He maintained an “on, then off again political relationship with Catherine the Great but eventually became a close adviser to the Empress. He retired after serving in the cabinet of Aleksander I as Minister of Justice. Many of his poems were dedicated to members of the Royal Court.
Prime Minister Medvedev enjoys Derzhavin’s prose.
Derzhavin had a major impact on a young Aleksandr Pushkin and the Derzhavin Museum like several others, is part of the state’s Pushkin Museum holdings.You can see this estate from the River and it is open for visitors at Fontanka Naberezhnaya 118, in Saint Petersburg.
Like many other grand houses of this city, the Derzhavin house has an interesting history. Not long after his death in 1916 his wife died and was buried at his side. The couple had no children and the house was purchased by the Roman Catholic Church and a Catholic Theological College was established on the site.
Russian Prime Minster Dmitry Medvedev, Derzhavin Museum.
By 1924 the Communist Party had seized the house and it was partitioned into dozens of communal apartments like so many of the grand houses of that tragic era and converted into communal housing. As expected, its character was gradually destroyed and the house was in grave disrepair for years.
PM Medvedev planted a tree on the estate grounds.
At the close of the Soviet period the government transferred ownership to the state’s Pushkin Museum holdings in 1998 and gradually the grounds and several surrounding buildings of the estate reopened as a museum to Derzhavin’s life and work. Derzhavin was buried in the Khutyn Monastery but his body was dug up and reburied by the Soviets in the Novgorod Kremlin. After the fall of Communism his body was returned to the Khutyn Monastery.
Sitting at Derzhavin’s desk, PM Medvedev signed the Museum guest book.
Despite being anti-Semitic, which sadly was fashionable in Tsarist Russia at the time, he was an important poet and when traveling to Russia’s northern capital the Derzhavin Museum is worth a visit for the sake of history:
Metro station: Tekhnologicheskiy Institut
Address: 118, Naberezhnaya along the Fontanka River