One of the reasons we know so much about the appearance of the imperial palaces in and near St Petersburg in the nineteenth century - and of the rooms inside the Hermitage - is that Nicholas I commissioned numerous watercolours from artists Luigi Premazzi, Eduard Hau and Konstantin Ukhtomsky. Between 1850 and the mid-1860s they produced a fine body of exquisite and historically vital interior and exterior views, many of which are in the Department of Western European Fine Art.

In 2016 the Hermitage Foundation UK purchased a drawing from this series for the Hermitage Museum. The work of Premazzi, it shows the Sergievka estate of Nicholas I's favourite daughter, Grand Duchess Nikolaevna, built in 1839 for her and her husband Maximilian, Duke of Leuchtenberg, by the architect Andrey Stackenschneier. The estate was a gift from Nicholas, who also presented his daughter with the Mariinsky Palace in St Petersburg.

Luigi Premazzi (1814, Milan – 1891, Constantinople): View of Sergievka Palace: West Façade. 1850
Watercolour on paper, white body colour; 245x357 mm. Signed bottom left: Luigi Premazzi 1850

Luigi Premazzi was an Italian painter, mainly of watercolor vedute. From 1850 he worked on commission from Emperor Nicholas I and other members of the imperial family. In 1851 he was awarded the title of ‘appointed academician’ at the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts, in 1854 Academician of Fine Arts; in 1861 appointed Professor of Perspective and Watercolour Painting.

The Hermitage Foundation UK and its Friends are proud to have been able to make this important contribution to the Museum's important collection of architectural drawings and interior views.