Bartolomeo Francesco Rastrelli was an architect, and the son of an Italian sculptor who was invited to Russia in 1716 from Paris. He was awarded the pontifical title of "Count". He designed many Palaces which were built in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Between the years 1746 and 1757 he build the Worontzoff Palace on the bank of the Fontanka for the Chancellor of the Russian Empire, Count Mikhail Worontzoff. In 1798 it was granted by Czar Paul I to the Order of Malta, and its name was changed to 'Palais de Malte' with a later designation in 1799 of 'Palais de St. Jean'. Paul I added two Chapels to the Palace, one for the Catholic Grand Priory and one for the Russian Grand Priory.
In 1810 under the secularising of the Russian Priories by Alexander I, the Palais de St. Jean became part of the Academy of the Corps de Pages, and in some ways provided a natural extension of use for the Palace. Nicholas I, brother to Alexander succeeded to the Imperial throne in 1825, and restored the two chapels of the Orthodox and Catholic Knights in the Palace.
Lithograph by H. Avnatomov from a drawing by Joseph Charlemagne 1858
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