Demidov (Porechie). Instituted on October 10, 1780.




Demidov (Demidoff, Demidow) FAMILY, Russian family that acquired great wealth in the 18th century, largely through iron production and mining, and became patrons of the arts and sciences.

Nikita Demidovich Antufyev (1656-1725), a son of Demidov Antufyev, was a blacksmith from the western Russian city of Tula, who took the surname Demidov in 1702. He began to accumulate his family fortune by manufacturing weapons for Peter I the Great (reigned 1682-1725). In 1696, after receiving land grants from Peter I the Great, he built and operated an iron foundry at Tula. The plant produced iron which, for the first time, surpassed in quality that of Sweden and England. In 1699 he built an iron foundry in Yekaterinburg. In the beginning of 18th century he opened the first iron mine in Siberia (in Kolyban). In 1702 he received an iron foundry in Ural from the tzar, which he built himself. This foundry became the first truly military plant in Russia, which was the main supplier of weapons for the tzar during Russia's involvement in the Great Northern War (l700-1721) with Sweden, Subsequently, he built several other iron foundries. In 1720 Peter made Demidov, a former serf, a nobleman. He had 3 sons for sure: Nikita Nikitich Demidov, Grigory Nikitich Demidov and Akinfy Nikitich Demidov, and quite possible the 4th one (name unknown). There is little known about Nikita and Grigory, but a bit about Akinfy.

Akinfy Nikitich Demidov (1678-1745), Nikita's son, increased his inherited wealth by expanding his holdings and establishing gold, silver, and copper mines, mainly in the Ural Mountains, He built at least 9 foundries, so near the end of his live he owned 25 copper and iron foundries in the Ural Mountains, Altay Mountains and in the central Russia. Akinfy was considered as the Russia's wealthiest person in the middle of l8th century. He built a tower with a special clock, underground rooms and secret passages at one of his plants, which has now become one of the tourist attractions of the region, known as the "leaning tower" of Nevyansk. He had 3 sons: Procop Akinfyevich Demidov, Grigory Akinfyevich Demidov and Nikita Akinfyevich Demidov.

Prokop Akinfyevich Demidov (1710-1786) became the first known philanthropist in the family. He funded a scientific institute in Moscow, and hundreds of public schools throughout Russia, In capital of Russia. St. Petersburg, he funded the Trade School and the opera. He was a founding member of many philanthropic organizations. He also expanded the family wealth, by the end of his life he owned 55 foundries and metallurgical plants.

Largely as a result of Nikita's and Akinfy's efforts, the Demidov family, by the end of the 18th century, controlled vast estates and enterprises and produced about 40 percent or the country's cast iron.

Subsequently, other members of the family engaged in philanthropic activities. Nikita Akinfyevich Demidov (1725-1789), a son of Akinfy, became a benefactor of philanthropic organizations. He also was a patron of the arts and science.

Grigory's son Pavel Grigoryevich Demidov (1738-1821) traveled extensively and became a benefactor of Russian education, arts and science. In 1755 he founded Mineral Museum in Moscow (now named Vernadsky Geological Museum or Earth History Museum). In 1803 he founded the Yaroslavl Lyceum, and in 1805 he founded the Demidov Institute of Science in St. Petersburg. Also, he founded the University in Tobolsk and Botanic Gardens in Moscow (Neskuchny Gardens). He spent 1,100,000 rubles for scientific organizations, what was the enormous amount in those times. The Mineral Museum was described in a 3-volume book by Fischer von Waldheim (Museum Demidov, Moscow, 1806-1807). In 1821 Fischer von Waldheim also published in Latin Panegyricus memoriae piae defuncti P.G.Demidow. In honor of his achievements, in 1806 Tzar Alexander I minted a medal "Catalogue systematique de la biblioteque de Paul Demidov".

His nephew and Nikita's son, Count Nikolay Nikitich Demidov (1773-1828) directed the family's mining business and also contributed liberally to scientific education, mainly in Moscow. He built four bridges in St. Petersburg. He was also active in the military: he distinguished himself in Russo-Turkish War of 1806-12. He established and financed the regiment which he commanded during the war with Napoleon from 1812 till 1815.In 1813 he gave the Mineral Museum his "collection of the natural creations" which became the basis of the museum's revival. The last years of his life Nikolay spent in Florence, as Russian ambassador. He founded there the art's gallery. He donated a huge collection of arts to the University of Moscow. When he died, the Italians built him a monument, which still can be seen in Florence.

Nikolay's elder son, Pavel Nikolayevich Demidov (1798-1840), in 1831 founded an annual Demidov's prize for Russian literature, to be awarded by the St. Petersburg's Academy of Sciences.

Nikolay's younger son, Anatoly Nikolayevich Demidov (1812-1870), also was a traveler and patron of the arts. He researched the southern Russia, where he discovered large deposits of coal. During the Russo-Turkish War of 1828-29, he donated 1 million rubles for the army. He lived for many years in Italy, where he was granted the Tuscan title prince of San Donato. His political career started in Paris, as an attache of Russian Embassy. There he married (in 1840) Princess Mathilde de Monfort, Jerome Bonaparte's daughter and Napoleon's I niece. He divorced her in 1846. Subsequently he had several wives, and one of them was Maria Calergis, who was considered as the most beautiful woman of the 19th century. He was a benefactor of philanthropic organizations. He founded the Demidov's house in St. Petersburg. His prince's title has been acknowledged by the tzar. He published "Voyage dans la Russia medidionale et la Crimee par la Hongrie, la Valachie et la Moldavie" in Paris, in 1839-1849. He became the member of the Paris Academy of Science. He had huge art galleries in Paris, Florence, and in his de San Donato Villa (near Florence).

Pavel's son, prince Pavel Pavelovich Demidov (1839-1885), consolidated the family's wealth, as Anatoly didn't have any descendants. He owned approximately 100 factories in Russia, 1 million square kilometers of land, and numerous palaces in Russia, France and Italy. His prince's title has been acknowledged by the Italian king Victor Emmanuel II in 1872. He was considered as one of the wealthiest person in Europe.

In 1862, the Demidovs' plants won a prize at the Great Exhibition in London for the quality of their iron, steel and copper and, in 1900, a gold medal at the World Exhibition in Paris. Iron from the Urals was supplied to British factories for more than 100 years. Indeed, the roof of the British parliament building is made from iron produced in the Demidovs' plant proudly bearing the "Old Sable" trademark.

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