The event was timed to coincide with the 200th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Russia and Switzerland. The guests were welcomed by Pierre Helg, the Ambassador of Switzerland in Russia.
The Founder of the IN ARTIBUS Inna Bazhenova thanked the Ambassador for the opportunity to present this edition in his residence, and talked about some of the details of the origins of the project. In summer 2014 the Fund has supported the Italian publication of travel notes of a Swiss architect Luigi Pelli, and afterwords decided to publish it in Russian, as it became clear that the diary of the architect is of great value for the history of Russian architecture.
The presentation featured the people directly associated with the personality of the Swiss architect: his descendant journalist and painter Enzo Pelli, and an art critic Giorgio Mollisi long engaged in the work of Ticino architects who worked abroad.
Enzo Pelli told the story of finding the diary of his ancestor. Three years ago in a family house in Aranno he was sorting out some old newspapers and magazines of the 1930s and stumbled on a small notebook. This was the ‘Travel Diary of Luigi Pelli of Aranno from Saint Petersburg to Lugano in 1829’, written in a nice and even handwriting. After a while there grew an idea of publishing the diary and the drawings which were kept in the family archives for nearly two centuries.
A descendant of the Swiss architect expressed his heartfelt gratitude to the IN ARTIBUS foundation and personally to Inna Bazhenova for publishing the family archive materials in Russian and expressed the hope that the study of materials that his family is happy to provide to Russian scientists, will shed light on the role of Luigi Pelli in the architectural history of Moscow.
Giorgio Mollisi continued the theme of studying the graphic and epistolary heritage of Luigi Pelli continued. He recalled that Luigi Pelli arrived in Moscow around 1820 at the invitation of the Swiss architect Domenico Gilardi, with whom Pelli was familiar since his youth – the family archives preserve a portrait of Luigi made by Gilardi at the end of XVIII century. In the 1820s, he became an assistant to Gilardi in reconstructing Moscow after the fire of 1812.
Besides that, Mr Mollisi told about the great value of the graphic heritage of Luigi Pelli. The book published with the support of IN ARTIBUS, includes his architectural drawings and outlines, among which some have been identified by Giorgio Mollizi as projects of the Board of Trustees in Moscow (by architect Gilardi), a House with Doric columns (by architect Grigoriev, a colleague of Pelli’s and famous assistant to Gilardi) and drawings by Domenico Gilardi for the Moscow University building.
Julia Klimenko, an assistant professor of history of architecture and urban planning of Moscow Architectural Institute, talked about Pelli’s place and role in the architectural community engaged in the reconstruction of Moscow in the 1820s. She noted that “before our eyes appear new architectural characters, the authors of works of Moscow who remained anonymous for so long.” Attempts to discover the authentic history of many beautiful buildings in Moscow now can succeed with the promulgation of the architects’ materials preserved in their family archives. This gives a reason to look forward for upcoming numerous discoveries related to re-attributing a number of famous monuments of Russian architecture. In conclusion, she expressed the hope that in the near future, the name of Luigi Pelli will take its rightful place in the annals of Moscow architecture of XIX century.
An exhibition “Winter Jounrey. Winterreise”, related to the publication of the book, is now on display in the IN ARTIBUS exhibition space until May 20 (Moscow, Prechistenskaya naberezhnaya, 17). This is a project of an architectural photographer Yuri Palmin who repeated the XIX century route of Luigi Pelli in the XXI century. Yuri Palmin presented one of the works from this series – a view of Castelgrande, Bellinzona, Ticino – as a gift to the Swiss Ambassador Pierre Helg.
The official part of the presentation was concluded by a show of an outstanding pianist and composer Vladimir Sverdlov-Ashkenazi.
The presentation was held with the support of the following companies: Audemars Piguet Swiss watch, Gourji exclusive accessories and gifts, Swiss national airline, St. Regis Nikolskaya Moscow luxury hotel, Courvoisier cognac house, Molecule selective fragrances, and Tseleevo golf and polo club.