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Pashkov Palace

At the very end of Mokhovaya Street a luxurious palace of white stone stands in an elevated position. This palace was known throughout Moscow as the House of Pashkov, since it was commissioned by the rich landowner Pashkov and built between 1784 and 1786 by Bazhenov, one of Moscow's best architects. Its combination of the strict, sober lines of antiquity with the Moscow style of patterning makes it a masterpiece of the unique Russian classicism.

This majestic palace has a wealth of stories attached to it. It is said that in its turret the Prussian King made his obeisance to Moscow for having saved his kingdom from Napoleon. Another story relates that there is an underground passage leading beneath the house from Zamoskvorechye to the Kremlin.

 In the mid-19th century the palace was bought by the nobility's boarding school, while from 1862 it housed the celebrated Rumyantsev Museum, which transferred to Moscow from St. Petersburg. The museum took its name from its founder, Count Nikolai Rumyantsev, who served as Chancellor to Alexander I, and was a well-known diplomat and patron of the arts. Count Rumyantsev was a very well-educated man, and widely read. From his youth he had collected books, buying up whole collections on Russian and Slavonic history. He was interested in exploration, and financed Kruzenshtern's expedition which marked the first Russian circumnavigation of the globe. The sailors brought back with them ethnographic treasures for Rumyantsev's collection. By the end of his life he had created a priceless library, and collections of Greek, Roman and Oriental coins, rare manuscripts, and a mineral collection. Rumyantsev wished to hand over his collections to the Russian people, to make them into a Russian National Museum, but he did not live to see his museum opened. It was his brother who transferred the collections to the Ministry of People's Education, and on 23 November 1831 in St. Petersburg the ceremonial opening of the Rumyantsev Museum took place. Because of financial problems the museum removed to Moscow in 1862.

From that time the museum has constantly been enlarged. In the year of its removal Alexander II gave it Ivanov's magnificent canvas Christ's Appearance before the People, which became the first item of the museum's art collection. He even insisted on the transfer to the museum of several pictures from the Hermitage. Later the museum's art collection was added to with the highly prized collection of Pryanishnikov, who was one of the first collectors of Russian paintings. P. M. Tretyakov dreamed of acquiring this collection all his life, but doubtless he never thought that after many years it would in fact become an adornment of the Tretyakov Gallery. This transfer took place after the revolution when the Rumyantsev Museum was dispersed. In 1925 the paintings and sculptures were given to the Tretyakov Gallery and the Museum of Fine Arts on Volkhonka Street. The book collection served as the basis for the Lenin State Library (now the Russian State Library) which was accommodated in Pashkov's Palace.

A new building for the Lenin Library was built next to Pashkov's Palace in 1928-30 by the architects Shchuko and Gelfreikh. A few years later these architects would take part in the planning of the Palace of Soviets on the site of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour.

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