Visit a 13th century Byantine palace and learn about Imperial life.
Among the great historico-cultural complexes in the environs of Leningrad the latest to be created was Paviovsk. Its fame rests on the splendour of the palace with its classical architecture, its sumptuous interiors and great art collections, and on the beauty of the spacious park, which covers around 1,500 acres and is one of the country's largest and most picturesque. A country residence of the Russian imperial family, it was created by a succession of outstanding architects, painters and sculptors within a relatively short span of time: begun around 1780, it was virtually completed by 1825. Construction was started and the first variant realized by the architect Charles Cameron, after whom his ideas and general design were developed and carried out by Vincenzo Brenna, Giacomo Quarenghi, Andrey Voronikhin, Thomas Jean Thomas de Thomon, Carlo Rossi, Pietro Gonzaga and others. Men of rare talent and superior culture, they built up a complex characterized by exceptional unity of style, however different their artistic individualities and aesthetic ideals.
Above: Unknown Artist of the 19th Century
Obelisk Commemerating the Foundation of Pavlovsk
Watercolor, 26 x 34cm
Pavlovsk Palace Museum
The Pavlovsk park, now one of the finest examples of landscape gardening, was laid out on a tract of land covered with swamps and forest. Its numerous decorative pavilions and remarkable statuary have been skilfully introduced into a landscape background; nature and art are blended here in the utmost harmony. In addition to the galaxy of talented architects who built Pavlovsk. such eminent sculptors as Ivan Prokofyev, Fiodor Gordeyev, Ivan Martos, Mikhail Kozlovsky and Vasily Demuth-Malinovsky contributed to the decoration of the park and of the palace.
Its palace and landscape park are not the only remarkable features of the Pavlovsk complex. Most important are also the rare collections of furniture, artistic textiles, objects in hard stone, in porcelain, crystal glass and ivory, decorating the exquisitely furnished interiors. Exceptionally rich and varied, these collections have long since assured the Pavlovsk Palace a place of honour among the country residences of Russia. Gathered together here are specimens of the highest order of every existing form of line and applied arts, both Russian and those of many other lands. However individual in themselves, these objects were used in interior decoration to create an artistic unit in a way which shows the relined taste and high skill of the architects.
The formation of the Pavlovsk complex took place during a momentous period in the history of Russia, marked by the glorious victories of the Russian armies under the generalship of Suvorov, Rumiantsev and Admiral Ushakov, and the crushing defeat of Napoleon in the Patriotic War of 1812; and its style rellects the spirit of the epoch.
In the early 1800s Pavlovsk came to be what may be called a Russian Parnassus, a place where prominent writers and poets forgathered. Among those who often visited and stayed at Pavlovsk were Vasily Zhukovsky, the poet, author of The Slavianka, an elegy praising the beauties of the park, Ivan Krylov, the fabulist, Nikolay Karamzin, the historian, Yury Neledinsky-Meletsky, the poet, and suchl writers as Nikolay Gnedich, Fiodor Glinka and Pavel Svinyin.
Nearly two hundred years have passed since the beauty of the Pavlovsk Palace and the lyric charm of its park first began to attract the attention of artists. Many a canvas, watercolour and engraving of the place have been left us by such outstanding painters and graphic artists as Semion Shchedrin, Andre Martvnov, Mikhail Ivanov, Johann Jakob Mettenleiter, Carl Kogelgen, Gavriil Sergeyev, Timofey Vasilyev, F. Filipson; and later, by Ivan Shishkin, Iosil Krachkovsky, Anna Ostroumova-Lebedeva, Alexander Benois, Vladimir Konashevich, Leonid Khizhinsky, and others whom we count among our contemporaries.
Above: A. Bugreyev
View of the Palace from the Marienthal Pond
Watercolor, 40.5 x 55cm
From the Atlas of Pavlovsk Palace, 1803
Pavlovsk Palace Museum
The importance of Pavlovsk to the history of Russian culture and art extends lar beyond that of a "historic home". Its art collections enjoy world-wide fame. Before the Revolution of 1917 these treasures were barred to the common people; and only when the Revolution had been achieved were the doors of the Pavlovsk Palace and the gates of its park thrown open to the people, their rightful owner. Both palace and park were declared national property, and thus assured complete protection. During the stormy days of the Revolution and the hard years of the civil war the Soviet Government did a great deal for Pavlovsk. It was among those architectural monuments which, despite the difficult financial position of the newly-constituted Soviet Republic, underwent the most urgently needed restoration as early as 1918. PavIovsk was highly appreciated as an outstanding phenomenon of Russian culture by Anatoly Lunacharsky, People's Commissar for Education, who called it a perfect example of the fully expressed taste of its time. In May 1918 Pavlovsk became an art and culture museum and ever since has been visited by people from all parts of the Soviet Union.
As soon as the War of 1941-45 broke out, a mass evacuation of the museum collections into the interior of the country was begun by government decision. Hundreds of packing-cases containing thousands of exhibits were removed to special depositories, dozens of marbles and bronzes that embellished the park were buried underground, and the statues and stone vases from the palace rooms were stowed away and walled up deep down in the basement. For nearly two and a half years the invaders ravaged Pavlovsk, plundering what property remained in the palace, blowing up bridges, destroying many of the pavilions, felling some seventy thousand trees to build fortifications in the park. In January 1944, forced into a retreat by the Soviet army, the invaders set the palace on fire, turning it into a pile of rubble and ashes. Ground pockmarked with craters, heaps of upturned earth, large areas entirely shorn of trees - that is what was left of the once beautiful park with its colourful flower- beds and picturesque bits of woodland scenery.
Soon after the liberation of Pavlovsk work was begun amid the palace ruins: excavations among the rubble, carried out by methods used in field archaeology, architectural measurement of buildings, and removal and conservation of the surviving details of decor, seriously damaged by fire and easily crumbling into pieces. Over forty thousand fragments of stucco mouldings, mural paintings and shattered marble fireplaces were collected in special containers to await restoration. Precious elements of the palace decor were thus saved from complete destruction. The original drawings and designs of the architects, the photographs and the vast archives saved by timely evacuation, now provided the documentary material needed to plan and carry out the restoration of the Pavlovsk Palace.
Now, after many years, the palace - risen out of its ruins - once again lifts its dome above the park's green foliage. It was reconstructed, in accordance with the project elaborated by the Lenproekt Institute (senior project architect Sophia Popova-Gunich), by a numerous force of experienced builders and highly skilled restorers mobilized by the Fasadremstroy Building Trust and the Scientific Restoration Workshops of the Architectural Department of the Leningrad Executive Committee, working under the supervision of the State Control Commission for the Preservation of Artistic and Historical Monuments of Leningrad. Slowly, with the greatest attention to accuracy, the work of restoring the decor and furnishings of the palace went on from room to room. Starting in 1954 with the less elaborately decorated rooms in the southern part of the building, which were restored and opened to the public in 1957, and gathering experience and perfecting their craftsmanship as they went, the restoration crew completed their work in the central part of the palace, where the interiors presented a particularly complicated pattern of decor.
In 1970, the year of the Lenin Centenary, the architectural restoration of the palace interiors was complete; and the palace became the first In our country to be fully reconstructed after the war. Gold shines again on the carved wood and moulded ornaments of door and cornice, and walls and columns once more wear their facing of beautiful co loured stucco. Many halls are decorated with painting as before, from graceful grotesques and colourful panels to complicated illusionistic architectural perspectives on the ceilings. The honour of accomplishing the restoration of the painted decor belongs to a group of Leningrad artists, who worked from the sketches and under the supervision of Anatoly Treskin, a prominent expert on the wall and ceiling painting of Russian classicism. Tapestries, paintings, furniture, decorative vases and statues once more occupy their appointed places; countless brilliant drops of crystal scintillate in the chandeliers; and the palace lives again.
Destroyed by the nazi invaders during the war, it rose from its ashes like a phoenix, as beautiful and enchanting as ever. Only the large photographs in some of the halls, - documentary evidence of nazi barbarism, - remind us of the tragic years in Pavlovsk's history. A great love of beauty, and the Weasserting spirit of Soviet men and women - builders of a new society - moved them to fulfil a task which seemed impossible. Pavlovsk reborn is yet another achievement of the Russian people, one more proof of the wealth of native talent and the deeply ingrained respect for national culture.
A monument to the art of times past, brought to life again, the Palace has become a monument to the creative effort of the Soviet people.
Nearly two hundred years ago, in 1777, work was begun on a rural residence for the Grand Duke Paul, heir to the Russian throne. The site chosen lay on the hilly banks of the Slavianka, deep in the woods In the environs of Tsarskoye Selo. The residence comprised two small houses named Paullust I and Marienthal, alter the German manner. These were unpretentious two-storeyed buildings, crowned one with a cupola, the other with a belvedere. In front of Paullust the Slavianka was dammed up, and the "palace" stood reflected in its waters. In the modest garden adjoining the house they built a few small bridges, a Chinese Kiosk and a set of romantic ruins - common features of country estates during the second half of the eighteenth century. No definite plan for the estate was worked out, nor do we know who erected the first buildings. It may have been Piotr Paton, a little-known architect mentioned in the early documents of the palace archive.
Before long, however, the modest size of the summer residence began to incommode the owners; and in 1779 the architect Charles Cameron first appeared at PavIovsk. Engaged by Catherine II to work at Tsarskoye Selo, he was "graciously loaned" to the son for whom the Empress had no love. Cameron was commissioned to build a new palace and layout a park in what was then a tangled forest. Accordingly, the first foundation stone of the palace-to- be was laid, in May 1782, next to Paullust; and on the other bank of the Slavianka a stone obelisk was set up, with an inscription recording that Pavlovsk was founded in 1777. The basic work was completed four years later, in 1786; and Paullust was torn down. On the sloping bank of the Slavianka there now rose a palace in golden yellow and white, reminiscent of the famous villas of Andrea Palladio.
At first the palace was composed of three parts: a central block and two curved wing galleries terminating in service blocks. The central building, practically cube-shaped and three storeys high, was crowned with a shallow dome on a broad low drum encircled by sixty-four columns. It was flanked by two single-storeyed colonnaded galleries, linking it with the service blocks one and a half storeys high. The forecourt enclosed by these buildings on the far side, and by a moat with a paling on the near side, was of oval shape.
The architectural decor of the buildings was selected by Cameron to accord with their functions. The simple architecture. of the service blocks set off the beauty and classical elegance of the dominating central building housing the state rooms and private suites. All the four facades present a different appearance,a device greatly enhancing the effect of the whole. The entrance front has a portico with four pairs of columns. The absence of a pediment affords a better view of the graceful lin es of the dome both from the forecourt and from the Lime A venue. The facade overlooking the river was given a pediment in order to create an impression of greater height, and the portico was left with only two paired columns at either end and two single ones between. The north and south fronts are simpler in treatment, differing in the decoration of the second-storey windows, which on the south side are ensconced in niches and embellished with columns and pediments, and on the north side have only surrounds of modest design. In both cases the corner windows of the second storey are given special prominence by the use of pilasters, porticoes and bas-reliefs. An air of elegance is lent to all the four faces of the building by the exquisitely moulded friezes and relief decorations executed by Ivan Prokofyev, a gifted Russian sculptor of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
The compositional pattern typical of the early classical style: a central block and two low wings linked with it by columned galleries, greatly influenced the architecture of Russian country estates during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It inspired the designs of scores of country mansions which were built to look like palaces in style and decoration, if not in size.
The principle of the palace's decor and furnishings had already been determined when the general contours and layout of the future building were only beginning to take shape on Cameron's drawingboard: the interior decoration was to be in keeping with the austere classical architecture. To this end it would have been necessary to purchase, in Italy, large numbers of antiquities and quantities of costly building materials. The cost of the Pavlovsk project as planned by Cameron was, however, too high for its owners, - the future emperor was then only heir apparent to the Russian throne, - and they had to forgo many of Cameron's interesting but expensive ideas.
The layout of the central building was explicit and easy to read. Compositionally, it centred around the Italian Hall, a rotunda under the dome. Lighted by a glazed aperture in the roof of the dome, the hall was designed to imitate the interior of a classical Roman temple of the Pantheon type. The rotunda was situated within a hollow square, forming a corridor which communicated with the hall and had recesses in the walls to hold antique statues, busts, cinerary urns and other objects of antique art. Next to the Italian Hall came the Great Drawing Room; - fashioned after the sphaeristerillm, or hall for ball exercises, a typical feature of the Roman thermae. Here began the state apartments of the northern and the southern suites. The central part of the palace, including the Italian Hall, was conceived as a "museum of antiques" in the eighteenth-century meaning of the word, with antique objects serving purely decorative purposes.
Cameron began the interior decoration of the palace with the living rooms of the ground floor, using I simple and inexpensive materials. Fine mouldings set against lightly tinted backgrounds formed the basis of his decor. Guided by a concept of beauty derived from his studies in antique art, Cameron succeeded in creating interiors of exquisite charm. In his private suites, even the state rooms had some detail or other which lent to them a sense of intimacy. Large numbers of genuine antiquities were purchased in Italy at Cameron's request to be used for decorating the state apartments of the palace: statues, Roman portrait busts, cinerary urns, bronze sculptures, antique pottery and other objects discovered during archaeological excavations in Rome and Pompeii. The first few packing-cases with antique marbles arrived at Pavlovsk from Italy in May 1783. Cameron's idea of creating a museum of antiquities in the central building was never fully carried out in his time; but Vincenzo Brenna, who worked after him, I also gave antique marbles a prominent place in the palace interiors. The antique sculpture lent to the halls an air of grandeur and dignity and, in its turn, took on a new lease of life, so to speak, as a link between the classic tradition and the creative effort of Russian architects.
Furnishings, too, received their full share of attention. It was decided to fit up the palace rooms with the very latest types of furniture produced by Western European cabinet-makers. Fashions and tastes in the field of art were dictated by Paris, long since acknowledged as the arbiter elegantiae, and the sumptuous carved and gilded furniture for the state apartments, and the somewhat more modest but no less elegant sets for the private rooms were therefore ordered from Henri Jacob in Paris. Within the next two years this furniture-maker, who was well known for the superb quality of his work and who competed successfully with his namesake Georges Jacob, made sixteen sets of furniture comprising some two hundred pieces. These sets were executed in accordance with detailed instructions and even designs sent to him from Russia, since the shape of many pieces was determined by the place they were to occupy in the interiors, as, for example, in the case of the sofas which had to fit into the semicircular recesses in the state drawing-rooms that were later to be named the Hall of War and the Hall of Peace. Henri Jacob's furniture is noted for its beauty of line and proportions, its exquisite carving resembling chased bronze, and its superb gilding. The sets for the State Bedroom, the Grecian Hall, the Tapestry Room and other state apartments are highly representative of his art.
The colour scheme of each room shows artistic discrimination of a high order. The upholstery of Lyons silk, and the drapery borders matching it in colour and design, were chosen in delicate tints, with colourful floral patterns. They were perfectly in accordance with the general character of the palace as a summer residence situated in the midst of a park with its acres of flower-beds. Tasteful combinations of different co loured silks changing from room to room in carefully thought-out sequence added liveliness and variety to the decor. Exquisite hand-embroidery was widely used - the product of Parisian needleworkers. Some specimens have been preserved, and may be seen on the furniture of the Grand Hall and Tapestry Room. Strikingly beautiful, they are examples of very superior technique.
We have already said that Cameron had been unable to realize all of his ideas. Continuous dissatisfaction and carping on the part of the owners forced the talented architect to give up direction of the Pavlovsk project after 1786. Having begun with the ground-floor private suites, Cameron had managed to finish only the Egyptian Vestibule and five adjoining rooms, including the Dancing Room, the Old Drawing Room, Billiard Room and Dining Room. From there on the decoration of the palace interiors was entrusted to Vincenzo Brenna, Cameron's assistant, while Cameron's own role in the Pavlovsk project was now limited to occasional consultations on special problems. On Paul's accession to the throne Cameron was dismissed as "no longer useful".
Brenna completed the decoration of the palace, drawing upon his knowledge of the architecture and interior decoration of imperial Rome and late Italian Renaissance. But he found it necessary to evolve schemes that would not clash too strongly with the "country retreat" style of Cameron's architecture. He had even to forgo some of his original designs, as, for instance, that elaborated for the Italian Hall, too heavily overloaded with ornamental detail, columns, mouldings, allegorical sculptures, draperies, etc., and to adopt other variants, more severely classical. He was not free, either, to follow his own inclinations in the matter of layout but had to respect that of Cameron.
It was in the sphere of interior decoration that Brenna allowed himself to be guided by his own taste. Gone were the dreamy elegance and exquisite intimacy of Cameron's interiors. Brenna's style, a masterly imitation of the decorative techniques of imperial Rome, may be majestically austere, as in the Italian Hall, or solemnly magnificent, as in the Grand Hall, but it always bears a stamp of his strong artistic personality. With Brenna, ornamentation acquired an extraordinary richness and expressiveness, perfectly blending classical motils with those of the Italian Renaissance and even of the Italian baroque. A prominent place in his scheme of interior decoration was given to painting and sculpture (notably the antiques brought from Italy). An important role was also assigned to colour. In decorating the studies and libraries in the state suites Brenna used the crimson Gobelins tapestries and the colourful Savonnerie carpets, gifts of Louis XVI. To set off the biggest Gobelins tapestries to advantage, the wall iacing the windows, intended to receive them, was given a rounded shape.
When the work of decoration and furnishing was at last completed in 1794, the Pavlovsk Palace could hold its own - in the beauty, richness and elegance of its architecture and interior decor - against many of the celebrated palaces of Europe. Brenna's interiors, though highly individual, completely harmonized with the architecture of the palace, developing and enriching Cameron's scheme. This explains why many students of the Pavlovsk Palace, notably Vladimir Kurbatov and Igor Grabar, attributed the interior decor of its state apartments to Cameron, treating Brenna's and Voronikhin's contribution merely as "editorial amendments" and "addenda".
One of Paul I's earliest ukases, or decrees, upon his accession to the throne in 1796 conferred upon the village of Pavlovsk the status of a town. Now that Pavlovsk was proclaimed an imperial residence, the modest dimensions of the palace were no longer considered adequate. Brenna, appointed Chief Architect to the Court, was commissioned to make the necessary alterations and additions for the accommodation of the vast imperial household, and to create large new halls for the formal life of the court.
To bring the new structures into harmony with the existing buildings and grounds was no easy task. Leaving Cameron's ensemble intact, Brenna enlarged the palace by adding to the original wings a second storey, and putting up a new semicircular block at the end of each, which changed the shape oi the entrance court, now almost entirely enclosed by buildings. Following the change in the height of the wings, light open loggias with arcades of trelliswork, designed in the style of garden architecture, were built over the galleries of the first storey. A large hall was constructed over the southern gallery to house the collection of paintings. On the first floor of the southern wing, Brenna made a suite of large state apartments, cosy anterooms, and service rooms. To link the old apartments and the new, changes had to be made in the last three rooms of the Empress's suite. It was then that the Dressing Room was given its final shape, and the Room for the Ladies-in-Waiting was created.
Notwithstanding Brenna's tactful approach and his desire to bring into harmony the new and previously existing elements of the building, the latter lost its "country estate" appearance and came to look like a fortified palace with a spacious drill and parade ground before it. The character of the decor altered: in keeping with Brenna's stately and majestic style, imperial cyphers, crowns, Roman trophies, etc. were now used instead of the classical ornaments and bas-reliefs favoured by Cameron. Only the dome with its ethereal Tuscan colonnade still retained its dominant role. One of the important elements in Brenna's decorative schemes was bronzework. A great number of bronzes were brought to Russia from France by Brenna personally after the bourgeois revolution of 1789 selected the best, such as candelabra, perfume burners, fire-dogs, chandeliers, lanterns, clocks, etc. The Pavlovsk collection includes priceless bronzes by Pierre Gouthiere, Pierre Philippe Thomire and many excellent, if less outstanding craftsmen.
The remarkable collection of clocks, scattered throughout the palace, is of particular interest. Clocks, or "time-keepers", were objects of luxury in the eighteenth century, rather than articles of necessity. Clock cases were given a great deal of attention: some were made in ormolu, others decorated with mother-of-pearl, tortoise-shell, porcelain, coloured marble or rare kinds of wood. They were embellished with sculptured groups, allegories, etc. Some show the phases of the moon in addition to the time of day; others, calendar clocks, show the month, the date and the day of the week. Many are equipped with musical mechanisms that play songs or dance music, or melodies from the popular operas of the day. Sergey Kostin, an outstanding watchmaker, was able to bring these clocks back to life and make them tell the time and play the delightful tunes of bygone days. The poetic charm of the chimes and music of the old time-keepers are best enjoyed when walking, of an evening, down the deserted, dimly lit halls, and hearing now the solemn, resounding strokes as of a tower clock, now the tinkle as of silver bells coming, seconds later, from the next room, or the pleasant melody of an old-time dance. This polyphonic intermezzo produced by clocks chiming one after another fills the old palace with a charm all its own.
In 1800 Paul I decided to change the decor of several private rooms. He engaged the services of Giacomo Quarenghi, a celebrated architect with a profound knowledge of classical art, who had already taken part in the work at Pavlovsk Palace. Quarenghi continued the work of interior decoration. He also built two small paved terraces, each with a balustrade and steps leading down into the Private Garden; they were entered from the living rooms through French windows. Quarenghi's interiors completed Cameron's and Brenna's eighteenth-century palace complex.
The death of Paul I, coming in 1801, ended for Brenna his years of endeavour at Pavlovsk. He was pensioned off and left Russia in 1802, taking with him his favourite pupil, the young Carlo Rossi.
This was the time when Andrey Voronikhin, who had already made a name for himself as an architect while redecorating the interior of the Stroganov Palace in Nevsky Prospekt, first came to work at Pavlovsk. His erudition in the field of art and architecture and his exceptional capacity for work soon won him the favour of the mistress of Pavlovsk, Maria Feodorovna, the late emperor's widow, and an appointment as architect to her court.
In January 1803 chimney-flue trouble caused a fire in one of the palace rooms, which, spreading, destroyed the decor of the state apartments and living rooms of the central building. For three days the soldiers of the Pavlovsk garrison, the townspeople and peasants from neighbouring villages fought the fire. Thanks to their efforts it was possible to save all of the priceless furnishings of the palace apartments and even some fragments of the architectural decor, such as door panels, fireplaces, mirrors, etc. Seared fragments of stucco mouldings were all that was left of Cameron's and Brenna's interior decoration. The palace interiors had to be done all over again. The Empress gave orders to find Brenna and ask him for the designs and sketches he had taken with him when leaving Russia. In July 1803 Carlo Rossi arrived in St Petersburg with only a part of them, those pertaining to some of the state apartments; the rest were missing.
Reconstruction was begun practically on the morrow of the fire, with Andrey Voronikhin in charge. Voronikhin used the surviving fragments of the original decor, the available drawings and even the advice of those who knew how the apartments had looked. His aim was to save all that was best and most typical in the interiors done by Cameron and Brenna. At the same time, Voronikhin wished to bring the decor more into line with the new tastes in architecture, and this made him introduce some quite important changes into the decorative scheme of certain apartments. Thus, Ivan Prokofyev's Twelve Months in the Lower Vestibule, which had perished in the fire, were replaced by a new group of figures emblematic of the months, done in the style of ancient Egyptian sculpture. The decor of the Italian Hall was supplemented by graceful caryatids in the same style. Rhythmically arranged over the frieze, they emphasized the massive cornice supporting the dome.
This interest in Egyptian art was connected with the events of the political and cultural life of the period. Napoleon's Egyptian campaign of the late 1790s had awakened popular curiosity about the art of the land of the pyramids, first in Western Europe and then in Russia. Voronikhin was the first Russian architect to introduce Egyptian motifs into architecture and even into applied arts.
In restoring the palace decor, Voronikhin used fine stuccowork in preference to painting, approach. ing in this respect to Cameron's manner. In the Halls of War and Peace, for instance, he built, instead of the old painted ceilings, a semblance of classical coffered vaults, and decorated the lunettes with bas. reliefs in the classical style instead of the former painted panels. Where Brenna's lofty manner was not Justified by the purpose of an apartment he tried to modify it, as in the Library of Paul I, for example, where he refrained from restoring the gilding on the mouldings. Alterations were also made in the designs of the painted ceilings. Instead of the panel Ariadne Crowned by Bacchus, the ceiling of the Grecian Hall was painted in grisaille with an illusionistic perspective view of a coffered dome in the centre. The new ornamental compositions by Giovanni Scotti, decorating the ceilings of the state apartments, were more elegant, and better accorded with the general style of the palace, than had those which existed before the fire. Voronikhin was the first among Russian architects to make use of plate glass in the windows and French doors. His huge frameless windows in the Halls of War and Peace served the purpose of decorative landscape panels, making of natural scenery an element of interior decoration.
Engaged in the difficult and pressing tasks connected with the restoration of the Pavlovsk Palace, Voronikhin found himself overburdened, for he was, at the same time, in charge of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan, then in the process of building, the restoration of the Strelna Palace, also destroyed by fire, and many other works, both in the capital and in its environs. He had no choice but to invite Giacomo Quarenghi again, to help in designing interior decoration for the Pavlovsk Palace. Many items of decor - the mahogany doors of the Italian Hall with their inlaid decoration and bronzework, the carved doors of the Grecian Hall, the gilded overdoors in the Halls of War and Peace, the framing of the ceiling panel in the Library of Paul I, and others, were restored from Quarenghi's drawings. Working together, the two architects managed to complete the restoration of the palace in less than two years.
In restoring the interiors, Voronikhin gave a great deal of attention to the problem of furniture. The original carved and gilded furniture by Parisian cabinet-makers appeared by now to be outmoded. After the French revolution, artists and architects in France and, later, in Russia turned for inspiration to the art of republican and imperial Rome. The murals, utensils, bronze furniture and other objects found during the excavations of Herculaneum and Pompeii exercised a strong influence on the interior decoration of the period. Furnishings a l'anfique began to come into fashion. In France the new trend was headed by Louis David, the celebrated painter, and the architects Charles Percier and Pierre Fontaine. Voronikhin, who happened to be in Paris during the revolution, had an excellent opportunity of acquainting himself with the latest works by French craftsmen. Himself a talented artist, however, he never copied them, preferring to work out a style of his own; and this style made an epoch in the history of Russian applied and decorative arts.
At first, the Empress wanted to have the original decoration of the palace reproduced to the smallest detail, but Voronikhin succeeded in convincing her that the style of the new interiors called for modern decor a l'anfique. With the exception of the State Bedroom and the Tapestry Room, where the old furniture was retained at Maria Feodorovna's desire, all the state apartments received new furniture made from Voronikhin's own sketches. In its forms and decoration were used the motHs typical of the marble and bronze furniture from the excavations at Rome and Pompeii. Painted in imitation of green antique bronze, with gilt ornaments and coverings of tapestries and artistic embroidery, Voronikhin's furniture became completely integrated with the interiors. The choice of forms was determined both by the architecture and the function of the various apartments. The bronze coloured X-frame stools with legs carved as lion's paws and decorated with winged satyr masks, harmonized perfectly with the austere architecture of the Italian Hall. The wide low long seats resembled the couches of Roman patricians. The light-blue silk upholstery, with its borders of brilliant orange painted with a classical ornament in black, together with the hangings in the arches of the second tier, struck a colourful note so characteristic of classical art. In keeping with the dignity of the Grecian Hall were its monumental console tables, sofas and armchairs whose sumptuous gilt carved decorations: acanthus motifs, figures of gryphons, eagles etc., created an effect of contrast with the ground colour of antique bronze. The dark-blue tapestry coverings of exquisite design, woven at Beauvais, matched to perfection the luxurious finish of the furniture, producing an impression of extraordinary opulence. The glitter of gold in the Hall of War and the Hall of Peace, which used to serve as Presence Chambers during the brief reign of Paul I and were now redecorated by Voronikhin as drawing-rooms, was echoed in the bronze- and gold-painted X-frame chairs imitating the famous curule chairs of Roman consuls and other high dignitaries. Somewhat more unassuming furniture was designed for other state apartments and for private rooms, though this, too, was excellent from the point of view of comfort and finish: in mahogany, with carved decorations painted to imitate patinated or antique bronze, and with gilding used sparingly, only to stress the beauty of line. Sets of this type appear in the Pilaster Room, the Dressing Room, the Bedroom and several other private apartments. They, too, have the severe but graceful classical forms, which lend them al peculiar charm. A festive touch of colour is added by the hand-embroidered upholstery. The bureaux, secretaires, cabinets, tables and consoles of mahogany with bronze ornaments and brass encrustation on ebony inlays, are remarkable for their faultless finish. Many pieces show a great wealth of imagination and ingenuity of construction, for example, the bureaux with containers for flower pots mounted in them, or the work and drawing-tables with a rising desk; these are ornamented with sam piers of coloured silk embroidery, watercolours, or pastel drawings skilfully built in.
Above: Unknown Artist of the 19th century
The Aviary: View of the Interior
Watercolor, 27 x 55.5cm
Pavlovsk Palace Museum
Most of this handsome and comfortable furniture was made by Heinrich Gambs, a native of Durlach-Baden and a pupil of David Roentgen, who arrived in Russia in the 1790s. One of the leading cabinetmakers of St Petersburg, whose work was highly valued and very much in vogue, Gambs worked much from Voronikhin's designs. Excellent specimens of his craft, produced during the first decade of the nineteenth century, are to be seen in the palace apartments.
Voronikhin designed not only furniture but also decorative objects for the palace rooms, borrowing his forms from the art of classical antiquity. He worked out a new type of lighting arrangements modelled on Roman lamps, suspended from long chains of bronze. In the Grecian Hall the lamps are done in white marble, with chased ormolu masks and rings. A similar lamp of green crystal and bronze hangs in the Boudoir. Even the crystal chandeliers in the Tapestry Room and the Library of the Empress Maria Feodorovna, also executed from Voronikhin's drawings, are Roman in inspiration. In 1808 and 1809 the palace rooms were embellished with numerous "Voronikhin" vases of crystal and opaque glass, with decorations in chased ormolu; made at the St Petersburg Imperial Glass House. The Pavlovsk Palace showed not only Voronikhin's gifts as restorer but also his talent as architect, for many interiors had to be decorated anew, and he did it after his own designs, in accordance with his own ideas. In 1805 he created, in the ground-floor private suite of the Empress, a new Bedroom, with an adjoining diminutive and cosy Oval Boudoir. To provide access to the Private Garden, a tiny portico with marble columns was added to the boudoir. In 1807 Voronikhin built his famous Little Lantern, one of the most perfect specimens of Russian interior decoration of the early nineteenth century. The Little Lantern was followed by many other interiors, most of which, unfortunately, have not survived to our day. Voronikhin devoted almost fifteen years to Pavlovsk, and only his untimely end, in February 1814, prevented the fulfilment of his many interesting projects.
Working on the interiors of the Pavlovsk Palace with Voronikhin was Pietro Gonzaga, an interior decorator of note, who had begun, while Brenna was still in charge of the project by painting the ceilings in the apartments designed by that architect.
Above: A. Bugreyev
The Dairy at Pavlovsk
Watercolor: 18 x 25cm
Pavlovsk Palace Museum
In 1806 and 1807 Gonzaga did the murals of the open gallery (then known as the Open Dining Room) built by Brenna in 1797, at the time when the palace was being enlarged. This gallery was on the far side of Cameron's colonnade, which led to the northern part of the palace. Gonzaga painted the gallery walls with perspective views in fresco, depicting colonnades, galleries and stairways of imaginary classical palaces embellished with sculptures and vases. The seven frescoes were divided by pairs of white pilasters flanking statues and busts of marble. Gonzaga's splendid knowledge of the laws of perspective and his excellent command of colour and chiaroscuro enabled him to achieve a strong effect of continued recession in depth. His paintings created a perfect illusion of distant prospects where fancy led one to stroll among the majestic edifices conjured up by the painter's imagination.
The frescoes painted by Gonzaga adorned many of the park pavilions: the Old and the New Chalets, the Peel Tower, and the Aviary. These frescoes are no longer extant. Neither are those of the gallery. In 1944, during the fire in the palace, the flaming wooden structures of the Rossi Library crashed down into the Gonzaga Gallery, and most of the frescoes perished. The recreation of the Gallery's painted decor is envisaged by the restoration plan. It will be based on the study of the surviving fragments and of other examples of Gonzaga's work known to art scholars.
The last great architect of Pavlovsk, who was destined to put the finishing touches to the complex, was Carlo Rossi. As a youngster apprenticed to Brenna he had worked for him on sketches and designs. In 1815-16, succeeding the late Voronikhin, he redecorated some of the palace interiors. Among other things he constructed the Corner Drawing Room to replace the Bedroom of Paul I. In 1822 Rossi finished the Dining Room on the ground floor of the palace. To comply with the desires of the Empress it was necessary to sacrifice two of Cameron's interiors, the Dancing Room and the Old Drawing Room, joining them together to build the new apartment. During the reconstruction work carried out in 1969, however, both the Cameron interiors were restored to their original aspect.
In 1824 Rossi created one of his best works: the Palace Library. Built over the Gonzaga Gallery, it merged organically with the rest of the complex. Although finished in the style of late classicism, the Library's facade harmonizes with the Gonzaga Gallery below it. With its vast windows, richly ornamented in stucco work, it seems a natural continuation of the ground-floor colonnade. Despite its somewhat different and more lavish decor, Rossi's facade does not clash with the classical architecture of either Cameron or Brenna.
Rossi's handling of the Library interior shows superb craftsmanship. Perfect proportions, a restrained style and tasteful decor join to produce an interior of great beauty. The curved gallery was roofed over with a shallow tunnel vault which excellently lent itself to painted decoration. The ceiling was painted in silvery-lilac grisaille by Barnabas Medici, one of the leading decorators of St Petersburg. The Library's semicircular windows provide plenty of light, so necessary for studying books or manuscripts or drawings. The furniture was made by Vasily Bobkov, who regularly fulfilled Rossi's orders for palace furnishings. Tall glazed bookcases of Russian birch, with light carving tinted the colour of patinated bronze, were ranged along the walls. Other furnishings included long tables, curved to suit the shape of the hall and decorated in the same manner as the bookcases; show-cases containing various collections; chairs upholstered in light-green morocco; bronzes; and a great many decorative vases in hard stone, of Russian work, placed on top of the bookcases. Large as it is, the Library had but a single door ornamented with dummy book-backs to look like a bookcase full of morocco-bound volumes; this device created an atmosphere of seclusion, conducive to study and meditation.
Like Voronikhin, Rossi showed great concern for the stylistic unity and perfection of his interiors. The furniture, vases of porcelain or hard stone, lighting fittings, draperies and embroideries were all done from his own sketches. His veneration of Voronikhin and his determination to achieve artistic unity moved Rossi to base much of his work on his great predecessor's ideas. Thus, in furnishing the Old Drawing Room on the ground floor, which retained Cameron's and Voronikhin's decor, he created milk-glass chandeliers, modelled on those designed by Voronikhin. Taking the crystal hanging lamp in the Boudoir as a model, Rossi created still another type of chandelier in the "antique" style, which matched to perfection the decor of the Corner Drawing Room. As to his furniture, Rossi preferred it to be made of native kinds of wood, such as Russian and Karelian birch, poplar or walnut. To achieve a wider colour range, he employed a rich variety of stained woods; and carving and gilding were used merely to bring out the contours of a piece.
Rossi's work in the late classicist style formed the closing phase in the creation of the Pavlovsk ensemble. After about 1850 no additions of any importance were made either to the architecture or to the interior decoration of the Palace. It has retained to this day all the exquisite beauty of the eighteenth and early nineteenth-century classicism, all the charm of the art of the talented architects, painters and craftsmen of the past.