Quarenghi's Hermitage Theatre in St Petersburg, original drawing in the National Museum in Warsaw.
Quarenghi's best known vedute meticulously represent mediaeval monuments of Moscow and its environs.
The Kuzmino Church of the Annunciation was one of Quarenghi's first projects in Russia.
Got his education in Italy.
In Venice (1771–1772), where he was studying the works of Palladio, Quarenghi came into contact with a British lord passing through there on the Grand Tour. His first major commission (1771–1777) was the internal reconstruction of the monastery of Santa Scholastica at Subiaco. For the Venetian cardinal Rezzonico, the nephew of Pope Clement XIII, he designed a decor for a Music Room in the Campidoglio, and designs for Clement's tomb (later executed by Antonio Canova).
His work in Italy and for English clients formed enough of a reputation that in 1779 he was selected by the Prussian-born count Rieffenstein, who had been commissioned by Catherine II of Russia to send her two Italian architects to replace her French ones (Loukomsky 1928). He accepted Rieffenstein's offer without hesitation and left with his pregnant wife for St Petersburg.
Quarenghi's first important commission in Russia was the English Palace in Peterhof. In 1783 Quarenghi settled with his family in Tsarskoe Selo, where he would supervise the construction of the Alexander Palace, the most ambitious of his undertakings to date.
Appointed to the post of Catherine II's court architect, Quarenghi went on to produce a prodigious number of designs for the Empress, her successors and members of her court: houses, summerhouses, bridges, theatres, hospices, a market, a bank building, interior decorations and garden designs. His projects were put into execution as far away from the capital as Novhorod-Siverskyi, Ukraine where a cathedral was constructed to his designs.
In Moscow, he was responsible for the reconstruction of medieval Red Square in a fashionable neo-Palladian mode. Count Nicholas Sheremetev engaged him to devise a theatre hall in the Ostankino Palace and a semicircular collonnade for the Sheremetev Hospital. Most of Quarenghi's designs intended for Moscow were subsequently realized with significant modifications by other architects, as was the case with Gostiny Dvor (1789-1805), Catherine Palace (1782-1787), and Sloboda Palace (1790-1794).
Emperor Paul disliked everything that was dear to his mother and Quarenghi's architecture obviously fell into this category. After the emperor took the Maltese knights under his protection, Quarenghi also joined the Order and served as its official architect until 1800. His commissions became less frequent.
Under such circumstances, he visited Italy in 1801 and was given a triumphant welcome. He turned his attention to watercolours, enlivening conventional architectural vistas with genre scenes from everyday city life. He also published several albums of neo-Palladian designs (1787, 1791, 1810) and provided elaborate designs for decorative vases, capitals for columns and metalwork executed for imperial residences, particularly the Winter Palace.
With the enthronement of Alexander I of Russia, Quarenghi was again at the height of his individuality and fashion.
After 1808 he lived largely in retirement as a celebrity. Of his thirteen children by two wives, a few chose to remain in Russia, while others returned to Italy. He died at age 72 in Saint Petersburg.
In 1805 the architect became a corresponding member of the Imperial Academy of Arts.
Giacomo Quarenghi had thirteen children.