The czars took great pride in the ever-increasing number of hardstone deposits being newly discovered in one corner or another of their far-flung realm during the eighteenth century. In 1721 Peter the Great (r. 1682–1725) founded the first imperial Russian lapidary at Peterhof, near Saint Petersburg, and encouraged mercantilist interest in the workshop. The enterprise soon became successful, producing widely admired objects of great beauty and variety. Under the monarchs who ruled Russia from the 1730s to the 1750s, the factory established itself as one of the leading creators of luxury goods in Eastern Europe. Semiprecious stones and rare marbles were brought to Saint Petersburg from all over the empire as well as from foreign countries and were transformed into lavish works of art. Other hardstone manufactories followed in Yekaterinburg (founded 1726), located on the threshold between Europe and Asia, in the Ural Mountains. This manufactory was able to process large hardstone blocks or boulders that would have been difficult to transport across the country. Together with the Kolyvan lapidary in the remote Altai Mountains (founded 1786), all hardstone works came under the administration of Count Aleksandr Sergeievich Stroganov in 1800. Until his death in 1811, this sophisticated aristocrat revolutionized the Russian lapidary industry. As an art connoisseur of international renown, his principal goals were to raise the quality of Russian lapidary products by modernizing the grinding mills and to perfect the quality and designs of the bronze mounts that complemented the stone objects. The second important Russian hardstone dynasty was the Demidov family. In winter 1874–75, while a student in Florence, the American sculptor Daniel Chester French described the interior of the Villa San Donato, a palace of the Russian count Demidov, located near Florence. It contained numerous malachite works of art, including vases five feet high. Overwhelmed by the abundance, he added, "The Demidov Family, it seems, own all malachite mines in the world."