Dimitri Ozerkov

Dimitri Ozerkov

Craig Hugh Smyth Fellow
Vicenzo Brenna and the funeral architecture of the late Baroque
2023-2024 (September - December)
Dimitri Ozerkov


Dimitri Ozerkov is an art historian and curator specializing in the 18th century and in contemporary art. From 1999 to 2022 he held the post of curator of the collection of French prints of the 15th to 18th centuries at the Print Room of the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg. A graduate of art history, he received his PhD from St. Petersburg State University in 2003. He researched print collections and architectural libraries and focused on the history of the Imperial Print Room of the Hermitage in the European context. He curated exhibitions of prints and drawings, including The Triumph of Eros (Somerset House, London) and The Architectural Library (Hermitage), and of contemporary art. He has published on Giovanni Volpato, Berardo Galiani, the Duc de Mortemart, Heinrich von Brühl, Jakob Philipp Hackert, Catherine II, Grigory Potemkin, Giacomo Quarenghi, and Vincenzo Brenna. His current interests lie in the fields of architectural theory, history of religion, the visionary, oneirocriticism, the cities of Rome and Jerusalem, and philosophy.

Project Summary

‘Umanità ebbe incominciamento dall’humare, seppellire’ writes Giambattista Vico in Scienza Nuova. The creation of mourning structures is one of the oldest traditions, which reached its splendor by the middle of the 18th century. The Italian architect Vincenzo Brenna (1741–1820) who worked in Russia from 1785–1802, designed and implemented at least six mourning decorations there. How are they related to his native Roman tradition of funeral ceremonies, including the themes of Christian veneration of human remains, the transfer of the sacral and the nobility of architectural materials? How did he combine Western and Russian architectural ritualism? How could the skill of a Roman architect be applied to the requirements of the Orthodox cult? What tradition would a person of the Enlightenment choose in the face of death in the era when Russia, after a century of being open to Europe, began to close under the fear of the French Revolution and was entering the era of political reaction? The project will address these questions on the basis of drawings, engravings and unpublished texts. Its task is to understand how the culture of the late 18th century was finding its humanistic foundations in mourning ceremonies.