Vue de la grande parade au Palais de l’Empereur Alexandre Ier à St Pétersbourg
Watercolor, black pen and white highlights on paper.
Inscribed lower left: "Painted by B. Paterssen in 1809".
Inseparable from the city of St. Petersburg, the work of Benjamin Paterssen (Patersen, Paterson, Patersson, Pattersen) testifies to his fascination with the tsarist capital. The specialists of the artist, G. Komelova, G. Printseva and I. Kotelnikova, state that "without his artistic contribution, the iconography of St. Petersburg would not be so comprehensible and rich" . In this view of one of the most famous squares in the city, the artist depicts the southern facade of the Winter Palace, built by Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli between 1754 and 1762.
In the center of the composition, Benjamin Paterssen also depicts Emperor Alexander I. Reigning from 1801 to 1825, this representative of the august House of Romanov pursued an ambitious military policy. This led him to confront Napoleon and French troops several times, but also other foreign powers such as Sweden and the Ottoman Empire. A seasoned military man, Alexander I was also an important patron of the arts. Under his reign, Saint Petersburg became a leading artistic center and attracted many artists such as Johann Georg Mayr, Aleksander Orowski and Benjamin Paterssen.
G. Komelova, G. Printseva and I. Kotelnikova, Petersburg in the art of Paterssen, Moscow, Izobrazitelnoye Iskusstvo publishers, 1978, 142 p.Larissa Salmina Haskell, "A Scandinavian Printmaker in Russia", in Print Quarterly, vol. Hovmålare Patersens återkomst: om den svenskfödde Petersburg-skildraren Benjamin Patersen; 1750-1810, Stockholm, Nationalmuseum, 27 June 1991 - 1 September 1991, Ulf Abel (ed.), Stockholm, Nationalmuseum, 16 p. San Pietroburgo 1703-1825: arte di corte dal Museo dell'Ermitage, Turin, Palazzina di Caccia, 4 May 1991 - 9 September 1991, Silvia Giacobone (ed.), Milan, Berenice, 1991, 488 p. Au service des tsars : la garde impériale russe de Pierre le Grand à la révolution d'Octobre, Paris, musée de l'Armée, 9 octobre 2010 - 23 janvier 2011, Emilie Robbe (dirs.), Sergueï L. Plotnikov (dirs.) et Gueorguy V. Vilinbakhov, Paris, Somogy, 2010, 223 p.
 G. Komelova, G. Printseva and I. Kotelnikova, Petersburg in the art of Paterssen, Moscow, Izobrazitelnoye Iskusstvo publishers, 1978, p. 23.
 Au service des tsars : la garde impériale russe de Pierre le Grand à la révolution d'Octobre, Paris, Musée de l'Armée, 9 October 2010 - 23 January 2011, Emilie Robbe (dirs.), Sergueï L. Plotnikov (dirs.) and Gueorguy V. Vilinbakhov, Paris, Somogy, 2010, 223 p.
Born in Varberg into a family of customs officers around 1750, this Swedish artist led a career as an artist straddling his native country and Russia. Trained in Gothenburg in the studio of Simon Fick, Benjamin Paterssen worked for about ten years in Riga, capital of the Government of Livonia, then attached to the Russian Empire. Around 1786, the painter moved to St. Petersburg, where he remained for the rest of his life. Despite his move to the tsarist capital, Benjamin Paterssen kept strong ties with Sweden. He regularly sent works of art to his native kingdom, participated in several exhibitions and even became a member of the Academy of Arts in Stockholm in 1798.
He specialized in the representation of Saint Petersburg, of which he produced numerous engraved or painted compositions. It is to this second corpus, much more restricted, that belongs this View of the Great Parade at the Palace of the Emperor Alexander I. Created in 1809, this composition is directly inspired by a work by Johann Georg Mayr, published around 1799, entitled View of the Grand Parade in front of the Winter Palace and part of the new Admiralty Boulevard. The notable change between the two versions of this representation is in the left part where the palatial architecture is different.
Benjamin Paterssen was undoubtedly a patient observer of the city's urban and aesthetic changes. The meticulousness with which he recorded these changes in his works is obvious. It attests to his attraction to the "Venice of the North", which was then one of the most innovative and ambitious artistic centers in Europe. In addition to representing one of the most emblematic places of the city, this view is also an opportunity for the artist to show the splendor of the Tsarist military ceremonial and the beauty of the Petersburg sky. Benjamin Paterssen uses warm colors and shows a real talent in the chromatic arrangement of this composition.
He also breathes extra life into his work by sprinkling it with dogs and birds. Aware of the attractive potential of this representation, Benjamin Paterssen also produced an engraving of which the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford holds a copy.