What was collected by the tsar Peter I?
of Peter I are possible by the right to consider as the first Russian collector. Its efforts collected the most interesting collection which became a basis for the large museum - Cabinets of curiosities. It is natural that collectors of antiquities in Russia were also to it, but their collections were small, unsystematic and testified not to scientific interests of owners, and to desire to have at themselves something unusual and original.
Petr has a keen interest to works of art and books was shown in a childhood. In many respects it was promoted by his tutor and the teacher clerk N. I. Zotov, and is slightly later foreigners Ya. Bruce, A. Vinius, P. Gordon, F. Lefort. Undoubted impact on the young tsar was exerted also by visits of the German settlement where he saw many exotic things and works of art.
The true passion to collecting arose at the tsar during the first foreign voyage. It found reflection in the description of Cabinet of curiosities published in 1800: “ Everyone almost knows that Sankt - St. Petersburg Imperial Academies of Sciences Cabinet of curiosities is lent by the beginning to the Sovereign Peter the Great. The city of Amsterdam was the first which put eya the basis. Peter the Great, being in 1698 in this city, got a set of the things consisting in birds, fishes, different Amphibia and insects who were brought to Moscow from there and are charged in watching Labe - to the physician Areshkin, but with which several freaks and anatomic preparations, in main this city to a drugstore collected soon were acquainted. Then small this meeting is transported to St. Petersburg and placed in the old summer Palace is general with " library;.
In 1697 as a part of Great embassy Peter I appeared in Amsterdam which was then one of the centers of trade including collection rarities. Here the young tsar for the first time saw the real meetings of antiquities (offices of rarities as they were called then) and works of art which made big impression on him. Pyotr sought to see all interesting, he visited the art gallery placed in a town hall, collections Vest - Indskoy and OST - Indskoy of the companies, a botanical garden, Ya. Vilde, N. Vitsen, F. Ryuysh`s private collections. In Amsterdam the tsar made also the first purchases which laid the foundation of future collection.
It is natural that the first acquisitions of the tsar were still unsystematic. But communication with large collectors helped it to develop certain approaches to collecting and to make acquisition of rarities purposeful. It is curious that the inquisitive and clever young tsar made big impression on the European collectors and scientists, at many of which then the long correspondence with Pyotr and even an exchange of exhibits for collections was established.
Undoubtedly, the great influence on the direction of collecting of the young tsar was exerted the anatomist by Frederik Ryuysh who collected a unique anatomic collection. It made the majority of exhibits for a collection on own technology. Pyotr not only attentively examined a collection, but also asked Ryuysh to train him in preparation of preparations and a technique of storage of exhibits.
About visit by Pyotr of Yakov de Vilde, owner of a big archaeological and numismatical collection, the engraving which is cut out by the daughter of the collector on the drawings made from nature remained. On it Pyotr and the owner of a collection with enthusiasm considering antiquities are represented. In several years after this meeting of Vilde sent as a gift to Pyotr the rare edition with the description of carved cameos.
During that trip Pyotr got acquainted with the famous naturalist A. Levenguk who designed a microscope. It is natural that the tsar at once got for himself several microscopes. And during survey of a collection in Leiden the tsar, to the surprise, found in it the objects brought from Russia.
The big impression on the tsar was made by collections and the museums of England where he went from Holland. Accompanied by Bruce he examined Tower collections, examined activity of the Mint and meeting of rare coins of ancient stamping. By this time Petr became more experienced in questions of acquisition of antiquities, and its purchases began to gain system character. Here Petr got a collection of medical tools, several models of the ships and it is a lot of books. By the way, it acquired books everywhere where it is only possible.
It is curious that the young tsar did not feel sorry for time for survey of rarities, often endowing for this purpose even a dream. The report of the prince Furstenberg to the king Augustus II about visit of the Dresden cabinet of curiosities by Petr in which it is noted that, having arrived to the city, Petr " remained; now demanded from me that I allowed it to examine Cabinet of curiosities. I made all necessary for that order, ordered to clear to it a way of people and at one o`clock in the morning took away it there where it also remained till the dawn. It expressed great pleasure at the sight of the being rarities different there, especially at survey of mathematical tools and other any craft tools which here a large number “. Having taken rest and having had breakfast, Petr went to Cabinet of curiosities, " again; there it is left up to night “. And in several days he visited her for the third time.
Peter I not only itself got rarities, but also inclined to it the satellites which began to get rarities for the monarch too. Already in the middle of a trip the main focus of interest of Petr in completing of the collection was designated. On the first place, perhaps, there were books. Especially the tsar was interested in literature on medicine, anatomy, geography, mathematics, shipbuilding and military science. Then there were various devices and tools, both for demonstration of experiences, and for practical work and measurements. The following large group of purchases was made by natural rarities and exhibits made on their basis. The tsar and other objects and exhibits which interested him in something bought.
Originally the tsar`s collection which was constantly replenished, stored in Moscow in an imperial drugstore. Pyotr actively involved the foreign acquaintances in replenishment of a collection, constantly receiving from them parcels with rarities and sending them the Russian rarities. Pyotr with pleasure showed the collection to foreigners. The certificate of the Danish envoy Yu. Yulya remained: “ Examined the Moscow imperial drugstore about which heard much before. It really can be considered as one of the best drugstores in the world... At a drugstore there is a big library in which the best, in various languages, compositions on medicine or art to treat “.
Soon Pyotr`s collection formed a basis for public Cabinet of curiosities, and its nowadays many exhibits are in Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography.