Monument to Rasputin proposed for St. Petersburg

PHOTO: artist concept of the monument to Rasputin near the Alexander Palace

Earlier this week, a model of a proposed monument to Grigori Rasputin was shown to journalists, during a press conference held in St. Petersburg. The model – the fruit of five years of creative work by the artist – was displayed in Rasputin’s apartment on Gorokhovaya Street.

The monument is a project by the Artproekt sculptural workshop in Moscow, famous for its Orthodox patriotic sculptures. The studio’s most notable works include, Dmitry Donskoy, Alexander Nevsky, John of Kronstadt, Sergius of Radonezh, and Nicholas the Wonderworker.

Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin (1869-1916) remains one of the most controversial figures during the reign of Emperor Nicholas II. The head of the Artproekt workshop, Yevgeny Korolev, believes it is important to rethink the image of Rasputin: “All the claims against Rasputin are not confirmed by real documents, so what are the accusations against this man based on? One of the historians I spoke with wrote eight volumes in which he debunks these myths.”

The project is surrounded by a veil of secrecy, even the sculptor remains unknown at this time. The 2.5 m [8.2 ft.] monument depicts Rasputin [who stood 1.93 m / 6.3 ft.] carrying the Tsesarevich Alexei Nikolaevich (1904-1918) in his arms.

PHOTO: model of the proposed monument on display in Rasputin’s apartment

The monument is almost ready – it only has to be cast in bronze, and the place for it’s installation has yet to be determined. The sculptor and his supporters believe that it should be installed in one of three places in or near St. Petersburg. For example, at Tsarskoye Selo, where Rasputin was originally buried in the Alexander Park; or next to the Petrovsky bridge, where his body was discovered in the Malaya Nevka; or in the garden of the Yusupov Palace, where he was murdered.

According to the the head of the restoration department Viktor Voronin, “It will be next to impossible to erect a monument in the garden of the palace. The Yusupov Palace is a cultural heritage site, where the installation, in principle, of new sculptural objects is prohibited by law.”

In late 1906, Rasputin began acting as a healer for Nicholas II’s only son and heir, Alexei, who suffered from haemophilia. He was a divisive figure at court, seen by some Russians as a mystic, visionary, and prophet, and by others as a religious charlatan. In the early morning of 30th December [O.S. 17th December] 1916, Rasputin was murdered by a group of conservative noblemen who opposed his alleged influence over Empress Alexandra Feodorovna and Emperor Nicholas II.

PHOTO: detail of the proposed monument depicting Rasputin carrying Alexei

Historians often suggest that Rasputin’s scandalous and sinister reputation helped discredit the tsarist government and thus helped precipitate the overthrow of the Romanov dynasty a few weeks after he was murdered. Accounts of his life and influence were often based on hearsay and rumour.

In recent years, the Russian Orthodox Church has expressed some concern over the growing movement by some Orthodox Christians, who are calling for the canonization of the controversial and enigmatic figure of Grigori Efimovich Rasputin. Meanwhile, many other Orthodox Christians consider such a move as blasphemy.

This will be the second monument to Rasputin installed in Russia, the first was installed in Tyumen in 2014.

© Paul Gilbert. 8 March 2021

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