The Paris of Peter the Great

Sergey Mezin

Abstract


This article considers the cultural aspect of Peter I’s visit to France in 1717, as well as his Paris impressions and the “lessons” he learnt during the trip. It was not his main purpose to get acquainted with the capital of France during his trip in May and June 1717. However, as it became clear that political talks were not going to be very successful, cultural contacts were brought to the fore. Referring to materials from Peter I’s library, the author concludes that Peter had prepared for the trip to Paris and arrived there already having an idea of French architecture and the landmarks of the capital. Written and printed “guidebooks” analysed by the author of the article and an album of engravings with city views help clarify the visual image of the city during the Russian tsar’s visit. Paris as it is depicted in the aforementioned engravings can be seen as a source of Peter’s dream about a new city on the Neva. Additionally, the author considers the Paris routes of Peter I described in detail by Pierre François Buchet, the editor of the Le Nouveau Mercure newspaper. The tsar was mostly interested in new buildings and monuments to monarchs. Peter I’s cultural policy was significantly influenced by his sightseeing in the French capital. Many spheres of French culture shown to the tsar by his hospitable hosts evoked Peter’s desire to create analogues on Russian soil.


Keywords


Peter I’s trip; Russo-French cultural connections in the 18th century; Paris of the Regency era.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15826/qr.2017.2.226

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