Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli (1700–1771) was an Italian architect who worked mainly in Russia. He had developed an easily recognizable style of Late Baroque, both majestic and sumptuous. His major works, including the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg and the Catherine Palace in Tsarskoye Selo, are famed for extravagant luxury and opulence of decoration.
Rastrelli was born in 1700 in Paris, where his father, Carlo Bartolomeo Rastrelli (1675–1744), a Florentine sculptor and architect who had trained in Rome, was active. Nothing is known about Francesco’s Parisian years, but it seems certain that the young man trained and worked in his father’s workshop. In 1716, Bartolomeo moved to Saint Petersburg, which became a new Russian capital just a four years before, accompanying his father. His ambition was to combine the latest Italian architectural fashion with traditions of the Muscovite Baroque style. The first important commission came in 1721 when he was asked to build a palace for Prince Demetre Cantemir, former ruler of Moldavia.
He was appointed to the post of senior court architect in 1730. His works found favour with female monarchs of his time, and he retained this post throughout the reigns of Empresses Anna (1730–1740) and Elizabeth (1741–1762).