Arkhangelskoye Estate Museum
Arkhangelskoye Estate Museum Review
This striking assemblage was begun at the end of the 18th century for Prince Golitsyn by the French architect Chevalier de Huerne. In 1810 the family fell upon hard times and sold the estate to a rich landlord, Yusupov, the onetime director of the imperial theaters and St. Petersburg's Hermitage Museum, and ambassador to several European lands.
The estate became home to Prince Yusupov's extraordinary art collection. The collection includes paintings by Boucher, Vigée-Lebrun, Hubert Robert, Roslin, Tiepolo, Van Dyck, and many others, as well as antique statues, furniture, mirrors, chandeliers, glassware, and china. Much of the priceless furniture once belonged to Marie Antoinette and Madame de Pompadour. There are also samples of fabrics, china, and glassware that were produced on the estate itself.
Allées and strolling lanes wind through the French Park, which is populated with statues and monuments commemorating royal visits. There's also a monument to Pushkin, for whom Arkhangelskoye was a favorite retreat. In the western part of the park is an interesting small pavilion, known as the Temple to the Memory of Catherine the Great, that depicts the empress as Themis, goddess of justice. Supposedly Yusupov turned the head of Russia's empress, and he allegedly built the temple to complement a painting she had previously commissioned—one in which she was depicted as Venus, with Yusupov as Apollo.
Back outside the estate grounds on the right-hand side of the main road stands the Estate (Serf) Theater, built in 1817 by the serf architect Ivanov. Currently a museum, the theater originally seated 400 and was the home of the biggest and best-known company of serf actors in Russia, who first appeared in Russia in the mid-18th century and disappeared after 1861, when Tsar Alexander II freed the serfs. In his summer serf theater, Prince Nikolai Yusupov favored weekly opera performances as well as dance shows with rich stage decorations. The well-preserved stage decorations are by the Venetian artist Pietrodi Gonzaga.
The main palace has been under restoration for many years and only some rooms are open. To go by public transit, take Bus 541 or 549 from the Moscow metro station Tushinskaya to the Arkhangelskoye stop, or minibus 151 to the Sanatory stop. To get there by car, go west on shosse Novorizhskoye and look for the signs for the estate.