Pavlovsk Palace a book by Anatoli Michailovich Kuchumov website design by Bob Atchison
  The Park
The Pavlovsk park, one of the largest in our country (600 hectares in area), may be called an encyclopedia of landscape architecture. Its layout reflects all the main trends in European eighteenth and nineteenth century garden design. The French regular or formal style is employed in the Palace area; the Italian style, in the Great Circles, Brenna's stairway and the Amphitheatre; the Dutch style, in the Private Garden, and the English landscape style, in the Siavianka valley and other sections.

View of Pavlovsk Park
Ivan Chessky
Fortress at the Town of Pavlovsk, 1800
Pavlovsk Palace Museum

These various types of landscape compositions, each chosen to suit a particular natural setting, are happily combined to form a single harmonious whole. Strict geometry of layout is skilfully used to set of!, by contrast, the beauty of wild, unadorned nature. An effect of rich and constantly changing scene s created, to which the park owes much of its unique, inimitable charm.

The scenery of the Russian north is presented here in an endless diversity of lyrical moods. The slender green firs, the white birches, the clumps of maples and limes, the sturdy old oaks and the silvery willows bathing their supple twigs in the quiet waters of the Slavianka, give a rare enchantment to the landscape. The park pavilions, built in a variety of styles - some severely classical, monumental and dignified, others affecting rural simplicity - are all tasteful and elegant. Decorative sculptures of perfect beauty, enveloped in a mood of pensive sadness, blend with the surrounding scenery. But it is the beautyof Nature herself, - the green lawns and meadows, the shady groves, the sunlit valleys, the winding river with water bubbling over the stones, the gushing cascades, the shining pools, - that links together the creations of the architects, gardeners and sculptors, and lends unity to all.

Perfect harmony of Nature and art, as a source of aesthetic delight - that is the end which all the designers of the Pavlovsk Park sought to achieve. Forming a single architectural and artistic whole with the Palace, the park is closely associated with the names of Charles Cameron, Vincenzo Brenna, Andrey Voronikhin, Carlo Rossi and Pietro Gonzaga, the designers, builders and decorators of this remarkable edifice. In the course of fifty years they shaped all the main park areas, creating unrivalled specimens of garden design. Each left on the park an impress of his personality, but the desire to reveal the beauty of Russian nature was common to them all and his gave unity to their work.

Three periods can be distinguished in the history of the park's formation.

The first, from 1780 to 1787, covers the years when Charles Cameron built a mansion for Paul and laid out the gardens. His work was distinguished by exquisite taste. He aimed at creating an intimate mood, a sense of comfort, and an atmosphere of artistic refinement both within and out of doors.

During the second period, from 1796 to 1800, Vincenzo Brenna laid out the Palace area in the formal style befitting an imperial residence.

The third period, from 1801 to 1828, witnessed the further development and completion of the ensemble by Andrey Voronikhin and Carlo Rossi, and the creation of large landscaped areas by Pietro Gonzaga, a painter decorator and landscape designer of note.

The nazi occupation of Pavlovsk in the war of 1941-45 caused great damage to the park. The bridges and dams were blown up, the pavilions reduced to ruins; many of them, such as the Kriek, the I Old Chalet, the Rose Pavilion, were utterly demolished. Whole areas - the Old Sylvia, the Great Star I and a considerable part of the White Birch - were shorn of trees. Over 70,000 old trees of various species were felled by the fascists. Countless bomb and shell craters, trenches, over 800 bunkers, pill-boxes and dug-outs, mine fields and huge antitank barriers of tree trunks - it seemed that no power on earth could restore to the park its original aspect. And yet the park has been brought back to life. Right after the liberation of Pavlovsk from nazi occupation in the spring of 1944 works in the park were started. The pill-boxes and dug-outs were destroyed, the craters filled with earth, the stumps uprooted, young trees planted, the drainage system repaired, and the walks and avenues surfaced.

The restoration of a historic park on such a scale as that was an absolutely novel experience in the field of museum work. It could be effected solely on a scientific basis. New methods, specially devised for the purpose, were successfully applied. The restoration scheme was based on the study of archival documents collected by the Museum's research staff, notably Nathalie Gromova, Xenia Kurovskaya, Zoe Weiss, and George Kurovskoy. Along with the old plans, drawings, photographs and other material, these documents served as the groundwork for the project worked out by the Lenproekt Institute. The reconstruction of architectural features was carried out under the direction of Sophia Popova-Gunich.

Highly important data for the restoration of the park were provided by the 1935 Area Planting Schemes and Professor Leo Tverskoy's Photographic Index of Landscape Compositions for 1939-40, as well as aerial photographs of the park taken in the pre-war years. These materials made it possible to establish the range, number and disposition of different tree and shrub species required for re-planting. Over 70,000 trees and 68,000 shrubs were planted in the park during the post-war period under the direction of George Kurovskoy, Nikolay Anufriyev and Marina Vliet, experienced landscape gardeners.

During the war years and the post-war period, open spaces were gradually becoming choked with the birch, the aspen, the alder and the willow growing wild, particularly in the areas of the White Birch and the Valley of the Pools. To restore to the clumps and groves their original form and the Gonzaga pattern in the choice and arrangement of the trees, and to open anew the prospects, this undergrowth must be skilfully rarified. Landscaping is conducted in accordance with the plan approved by the State Control Commission for the Preservation of the Artistic Monuments of Leningrad.

The restoration of Gonzaga's landscaping in the White Birch, with its wide expanses of meado..y and its picturesque groves, will complete the reconstruction of the Pavlovsk park, this magnificent monument of Russian culture and one of the most picturesque parks in the world.

During the early years of Pavlovsk's history the banks of the Slavianka were cleared of undergrowth and small gardens were laid out around Paullust and Marienthal. In the dense woods and groves along the sloping river banks the owners placed numerous pleasure houses and pavilions. In line with current fashion there was a Chinese Kiosk with the roof shaped like an umbrella, and a romantic folly meant to resemble the half-ruined barbican of some medieval castle. Of special note were the park's "pastoral" buildings, intended to satisfy the sentimental idyllic whims of the nobility who affected a taste for "simple" life close to nature. These included a Charbonniere (charcoal-burner's hut) hidden from view in the dense woodland, a log building shaped like a saddle roof, and covered over with earth and moss, but with a luxurious stately interior. There was also a Hermit's Cell, a deliberately stark-looking little house faced with tree-bark and with "simple" rustic furnishings inside. The Hermit's Cell stood in a pine-grove on the bank of the Slavianka. Not far away was the Swiss-style Old Chalet, a building with a thatched roof, outwardly plain but fitted inside with magnificent decorations and furniture.

Peel Tower Pavlovsk
Cosmas Chensky
View of the Peel Tower in the Gardens of Pavlovsk
Pavlovsk Palace Museum

In spite of the originally modest dimensions of the park, it already owed certain features to that new approach to garden design which had begun to find favour in Europe in the latter half of the eighteenth century. Hitherto the so-called regular or French style had held sway. This was characterized by strictly geometrical layouts, the use of topiary work - trees and bushes intricately cut into a variety of shapes, - fountains, an abundance of decorative sculpture and parterres. All this made a park as refined as the great rooms of a stately home and provided the backdrop for elaborate court ceremonial.

The ideas of the French encyclopedists, and especially those of Jean Jacques Rousseau, concerning the beauty of nature in its wild state and the delightful idyllic life in the countryside, paved the way for the development of a different kind of park. This was the landscaped park. The basic principles involved in the planning of such parks were first worked out in England by the architects William Chambers and William Kent. Parks were created in which nature was only slightly improved and corrected by the hand of man. Here trees and bushes grew freely, pools and lakes had quaintly shaped banks, and beautiful prospects opened from each bend in the winding walks.

The modest little park of the Pavlovsk estate, with its somewhat naive adornments, ceased to satisfy the owners after a grand new palace in the neo-Palladian style had been built there by Cameron.

The architect laid out the new park areas in the English landscape style, more congenial to the size and architecture of the Palace. His task was made easier by the fact that the park had been carved out of an immense tract of forest through which meandered the river S.1avianka. The river's high hilly banks, the deep woodland ravines and .the numerous streams all helped towards the creation of an extraordinarily picturesque landscape.

Work began in 1780, starting from the Palace as the focal point. Cuttings were made through the trees to form the main avenues both in the nearer. and in more distant areas of the park (Great Star, White Birch). Under Cameron's direction the wide cutting which started from the forecourt became the Lime Avenue, the main approach to the Palace. Four rows of spherically cut Dutch limes were planted along the avenue to mark the main axis of the Palace area. At the far end stood a slender marble column with an Ionic capital, and an imposing pair of. elegant iron gates wrought by the master smiths of the Sestroretsk Arms Factory. This area was the setting for various ceremonial occasions of court life.

Cameron designed and arranged his pavilions - the Temple to Friendship, the Aviary, the Cold Bath, the Apollo Colonnade - so as to link them, both stylistically and compositionally, to the Palace complex. The Palace, as seen from many viewpoints, is beautifully set in the landscape, which, in its turn, is designed to correspond with the layout and function of each part of the building. The windows of the great reception' rooms, for example, look out upon the formal parts of the park, such as the Lime Avenue and the Great Circles. Similarly, on the south side, where the living quarters were sited, Cameron laid out an intimate, enclosed Private Garden after the Franco- Dutch style, with a strictly geometrical plan and a colourful pattern of flower-beds. Along the sides of its central avenue, laid out transverse to the main axis of the Palace, were flower parterres, beds of shrubs and quincunx plantations. The pleached walks were clustered with wild vines and other decorative plants. All this earned this bright, cosy, flower-fragrant corner of the grounds the name of the Realm of Flora.

The clipped limes, Lombardy poplars, and other trees with crowns 'of regular shape, as well as the symmetrically arranged statues, busts and vases, served to enhance the formal character of the layout. The Garden is linked to the Palace interiors by balconies, stone terraces, and flights of steps, and its parterres look like richly coloured carpets. The original plan of the Garden has been preserved, as have many features of the general decorative scheme. The Garden remains even now a particularly trim and cosy part of the Palace area.

On the south side of the Lime Avenue Cameron created another area with a formal layout, the Aviary Garden, a place for recreation and exercise. Within a circular pleached walk overgrown with climbing plants, in the spaces between the parterres were installed swings, and the long path lined with marble busts, which ran between the parterres, was used as a skittle-alley. There was also an intricate Maze of trimmed shrubs, which Cameron laid out in 1786, a network of cunningly confused green corridors, some running in intricate loops, others forming a large com plicated spiral. In the same area a luxuriant rose garden was laid out, with hundreds of very rare bushes.

The Garden was divided off from the Lime A venue by a tall and long linden hedge clipped into a wall with archways, the tops of the trees formed as finials of spherical shape. Beyond the arcade ran a sinuous path, and in its bends stood about forty genuine ancient Roman cinerary urns. Steeped as he was in classical culture, Cameron strove even here to emphasize the link between the beauty of nature and the beauties of antiq ue art.

The Fair Vale Pavilion at Pavlovsk
A. Bugreyev
The Fair Vale Pavilion
Pavlovsk Palace Museum

This idea of Cameron's also found expression in the pavilion called the Aviary (1782). Although it was intended solely as an aviary for song-birds, the architect gave it a severely classical form, decorating it with columns, a dome, and delicate mouldings. The main facade faces south, to give the little inmates as much light and warmth as possible. The pavilion consists of three blocks, two small ones at the sides, and a central hall topped by a low dome. They are connected by galleries of Doric columns. Ornate metal netting, displaying the imperial coat of arms, was stretched between the columns. Thus fitted, the galleries served as bird-cages. Here, amid flowers and decorative plants, nightingales, goldfinches, starlings and quail were kept.

The central hall of the pavilion, hung with muslin draperies tied with blue ribbons, was adorned with painted decoration, mirrors, and coloured stone vases. It had elegant furniture and was designed as a place for relaxation. The two side rooms held a collection of ancient marbles, pottery and small bronzes, which had emerged during recent excavations in Rome, and had been bought for Pavlovsk.

Originally, the area before the south facade was occupied by hothouses and a flower nursery. In the second half of the nineteenth century the site was freed to make room for a pool with a statue rising in the midst of it, and clumps of trees and shrubs planted on the banks.

The formal sections of the park near the Palace are not typical of the whole Pavlovsk Its fame rests on large landscaped areas, which reveal the charm of nature in its wild state. superb specimens of Russian park design.

The valley of the Slavianka between the Palace and the Visconti Bridge was one of the first areas to be planned and laid out by Cameron. The twisting course of the river, the level of which was raised by damming, and its picturesque hillocky wooded banks, enabled the architect to demonstrate his brilliant flair for landscaping. Clearing the slopes and hillocks of their wild forest cover, Cameron created beautiful groves, preserving some of the old trees and planting new ones, which were chosen for their shape and for the colour of their foliage. Right on the banks, especially by the bridges, silvery weeping willows bent over the water. In open spots were left clumps of young limes, and mighty oaks and slender birches standing singly.

Pavlovsk was exclusively a summer residence, and so attention was focused on the summer and autumn scenery. Winter was not taken into account.

The park is full of poetic charm in spring, when nature wakes up and the tender young shoots begin to appear. First the bird-cherry flowers, its trees covering the slopes like green waves crested with white foam, and after it blossoms the lilac, where the untiring nightingales trill, breaking the silence of the white nights. The park is glorious in summer, for it is filled with luxuriant verdure and bright flowers, and breathes the fragrance of new-mown hay. But it is in the golden days of autumn that Pavlovsk takes on its full splendour, spattering its groves and flower-beds with a bewildering wealth of colours.

The numerous pavilions, bridges, gates, obelisks, and statues are vital elements in the park design. Each serves as a key feature of a definite area, and each was carefully designed to suit its setting. The Temple to Friendship became just such a focal point in the valley of the Slavianka. It was built by Cameron between 1780 and 1782 and was, in fact, the first edifice he constructed on arrival in Russia from Britain.


The architect placed the circular temple with its ring of sixteen fluted Doric columns on a tongue of land formed by a loop in the course of the river. The severity of its smooth walls with a single massive oak door is softened by the round classical-style bas-reliefs, which have love and friendship as their theme. The frieze of the entablature is decorated with garlands and dolphins. Inside the pavilion, in a niche facing the entrance, stood a plaster copy of Jacques Dominique Rachette's bronze statue of Catherine II as Ceres, cast in 1789 (removed in 1917). The building as a whole is pervaded by that sense of solemn dignity which is peculiar to classical architecture.

From a distance the Temple to Friendship does not seem large. It is only when one goes up to it that one sees how deceptive this impression is. Thanks to his eye for correct proportion and his skill in balancing masses Cameron succeeded in creating a monumental work, despite the fact that it was intended only as a decorative pavilion. The circular shape of the building harmonizes beautifully with its surroundings - the smooth curves of the river, the hillocks on its banks and the walks winding along the green slopes. It is as if Cameron were emphasizing the fact that here architecture does not dominate nature, but is enhanced and completed by nature. Groups of trees are used as wing screens, breaking the valley into a number of landscape compositions. Owing to this, views of the temple can be had from a great number of different angles. Now the whole of it is revealed, the key feature of a great expanse. Now only a piece of the colonnade is visible, or perhaps the dome. Whatever the angle, it is always picturesque and always blends with the landscape.

The Temple of Friendship, one of the most perfect of Cameron's works, influenced greatly the architects who subsequently designed buildings for Russian country estates.

The park owes a great deal of its beauty to the hilly terrain and the abundance of water. Cascades, rocky shoals and wide pools with mirror-like surfaces are essential in its landscape. A big reservoir was created alongside the Slavianka, and was called the Round Lake. A large cascade imitating a natural waterfall was made to pour down its steep bank, the water dashing over the boulders strewn along the bottom of a shallow ravine in picturesque disorder. The sound of the cascade and of the dams, breaking the silence of the park, adds to the sentimental, elegiac mood of the scene. From the walks which run along the uneven banks of the Slavianka lies opened, in all the valley the richness and beauty and endless variety which Cameron gave to the landscape.

In areas with the level surface the scenery has a completely different character. On the plateau of the left bank of the Slavianka, almost by the entrance to the park from the direction of Tsarskoe Selo (now Pushkin), is a large and beautiful meadow. Here Cameron built the Apollo Colonnade (1782-83). It has the form of a circular classical temple with a double row of Tuscan-Doric columns carrying a heavy entablature. The plainness of the structure, the material from which it was made - grey porous . limestone with an intentionally coarse finish - give it the air of an antique monument ruined by time.

This imposing temple of Apollo, an open colonnade full of light and air, has only the blue sky for a roof. Inside the Colonnade originally stood a bronze copy of Apollo Belvedere.

The edifice, placed right at the park's entrance, was intended to suggest the idea that the whole ensemble of the Palace and its park is a world of beauty and poetry, where the Muses have found refuge, where radiant Apollo, supreme patron of the arts and of all that is joyful and bright in life, rules over all. This poetic idea was subsequently developed by Cameron's successors.

All Cameron's architectural works, regardless of their function, are designed in a majestic and austere classical style, and each conveys a definite message. The gardeners' art was only called upon to develop and enhance the architect's idea, to emphasize, in each case, the individual features and the overall harmony of the design.

Cameron was an artist with a fine appreciation of natural beauty, and when concerned with a building of only secondary importance, always integrated it skilfully with its natural surroundings. Sometimes he only allowed a part of it to emerge into the landscape, sometimes he hid it completely with thickly planted trees. The Cold Bath, built for summer bathing in 1799, is sited right on the bank of the Slavianka next to a thick grove, and can be seen, both from the Palace and from the little bridge nearby, against a backdrop of trees. The charm of this little pavilion with its completely plain facade lies in its severe, perfectly calculated proportions. It consists of a rotunda and a rectangular block with a pediment. Its character is in harmony with the privacy of the nearby Family Grove and all the adjoining stretch of river-bank.

Cameron also built several memorials, which evoke a mood of sentimental sadness. They stand in distant parts of the park, hidden from view by thick rows of trees.

The Memorial to the Parents is one of these. It is dedicated to the deceased members of Maria Feodorovna's family: For this edifice the architect chose one of the most remote areas, right on the edge of the park at that time. It is reached from the Lime Avenue by a narrow twisting Philosopher's Path. The solitary walk and the ancient woodland surrounding the visitor prepare him to tak~ in the monument by inducing a mood of contemplation. It is surrounded by a solid wall of trees so that only a front view is permitted and then only from a short distance. Cameron gave the structure the form of a small open temple. A semi-circular niche set into a rectangular volume is decorated with columns and pilasters of pink Tivdiya marble from Karelia. Its strict classical proportions, its columns, and a frieze of triglyphs on the entablature and the smooth walls inside give to the building a monumental quality.

In 1807 or thereabout a magnificent marble group, the work of Ivan Martos, was placed in the temple. Before an obelisk stands a marble base with inset bas-relief plaques carved with allegorical subjects.

It is surmounted by two funerary urns on a pedestal decorated with the conjoint busts, in medallion, of Maria Feodorovna's parents. To the right of the pedestal stands the Genius of Death; he draws aside the veil covering the urns. At the left is the kneeling figure of a woman. Her bent head, her tear-stained face, her stretched arms with the hands tightly clasped bespeak infinite sorrow. In this work Martos revealed with exceptional force the tragic depths of human grief.

The genuine ancient Roman sacrificial altar which then stood in front of the Memorial, and the iron gates with their symbols of mourning, reinforced the dramatic effect of the sculpture and architecture.

Cameron was essentially a classicist, but in order to carry out the wishes of the owners of Pavlovsk he had now and again to work in a taste which differed from his own. To the series of sentimental romantic structures built earlier - the Hermit's Cell, the Charbonniere, the Old Chalet - he added the Dairy, a ferme ornee. He placed it in a stretch of thick forest not far from the Lime Avenue, taking care not to let it be seen from the Palace area, a part of the park reserved for official life.

The architect and his clients conceived the Dairy as a kind of peasant's hut. Its walls were made of boulders and rocks, Alpine-style. The high roof was thatched and rested on crudely shaped wooden beams; an old birch tree was built into the structure. A bell hung on the roof. It was rung as a signal to bring in the cows from the wood and the river-bank. The herds of cows and sheep helped to give the landscape a rural look.

Inside the Dairy there was a milking-shed with six stalls, rooms where milk products were prepared and kept, and a sitting-room. The charm of such pastoral buildings usually lay in the unexpected contrast between the plain exterior and the refined luxury and comfort within. The domed ceiling of the sitting-room in the Dairy was covered with paintings and the walls were lined with white ceramic tiles. Silk draperies at the windows, sumptuous gilded furniture, and dozens of precious Chinese and Japanese porcelain vases which were arranged on marble tables and shelves, completed the decor. Fresh milk was always kept ready in a large Japanese vase with a silver tap, which stood in the centre of the room on a tripod table. On hot summer days people would call in from their walks for a rest, a drink of cold milk or fresh cream, and a meal of fragrant brown country bread. Later, a farm with greater productive capacity was set up on the edge of the park to provide dairy products.

The park, ennobled by the hand of man, adorned with monuments, pavilions and statuary, merged imperceptibly into the great wild forest which lay beyond its boundaries. This woodland, too, was gradually absorbed into the park. Cameron cut numerous roads through the trees, and drained the marshy ground with ditches. The natural character of the Pavlovsk woods, however, remained unspoiled. Cameron thus laid down the basic plan of the Great Star and the White Birch areas.

In the last decade of the eighteenth century Cameron's activities at Pavlovsk were suspended, and for several years he was not allowed to work there at all. It was not until 1800 that Paul I once again called upon the architect to carry on with the building works in the park. It was at this time that a new area, the Fair Vale, was laid out along the Slavianka on the edge of the park.

On one of the riverside hills at the end of the valley Cameron erected, in 1800, the Fair Vale Pavilion, an unusual edifice in the romantic taste, which embodied once again the idea of life being revived upon the magnificent ruins of antiquity. The architect gave it the form of a classical building, square in plan, with a graceful portico of pink marble, and surrounded it by a massive half-ruined colonnade made of rough stone. The building looked like a pile of ancient ruins with a new, modern-looking belvedere on the roof. The belvedere had railings made of birch trunks laid crosswise between pillars of stone. A wide stairway led up to it and in the middle of the stairway was a landing with a tent roof thatched with straw and supported on four stone pillars.

Pietro Gonzaga was responsible for some of the decorative work. It was he who painted the ceiling of the beautiful hall inside with an illusionistic perspective of a domed vault, in the middle of which was an aperture showing a piece of blue sky and an overhanging birch branch. This cleverly executed painting prepared the eye for the real view outside - the birches standing by the walls of the building and visible from the windows. In some old documents the pavilion is referred to as the Point de vile, the Viewpoint, and indeed at that time the belvedere commanded a magnificent prospect of the Slavianka valley, the picturesque cascade and the distant fields and meadows where the peasants worked.

Standing nearby, and planned as part of the same complex as the Fair Vale Pavilion, was the artificial Ruin - a folly. It was probably Cameron who conceived and designed the Ruin, but the actual building was carried out by Andrey Voronikhin in 1804.

Adjoining a mound thickly overgrown with trees, the ruins were those of a wall with archways. Between the archways was a niche in which stood an antique statue of Venus (now in the Hermitage, Leningrad). Fragments of broken statuary, of bas-reliefs, marble cornices, columns and other antique remains brought from Rome (in 1920-22 some of these objects were transferred to the Hermitage, others to the Pavlovsk Palace Museum) lay in picturesque disarray in the grass and undergrowth, and the whole, in the words of a contemporary, "conjured up a vivid picture of the ruins of Greece, still bathed in greatness and glory". A small wooden house was cleverly and inconspicuously built into the Ruin. It served as a watchman's lodge for the Fair Vale Pavilion. This romantic structure betrays the influence of Hubert Robert, whose works, which were popular at the time, depict classical ruins. Skilfully . integrated with its setting, it had the appearance of the ruined ground floor of a genuine antique edifice.

Cameron's long period of intense activity at Pavlovsk concluded with the construction, in 1800-1, on the terrace of the Private Garden, of the Pavilion of the Three Graces. From the terrace above the thoroughfare, a broad panorama opened up of the Marienthal Pool, an artificial pool formed in the Slavianka near the Palace Bridge. From this point one could see the Treillage, from which a broad stairway descended to the pool, the lovely little hills called the Swiss Mountains and the obelisk commemorating the foundation of Pavlovsk (1782). The medieval silhouette of the Bip Fortress, which was built on the earthworks of some old Swedish fortifications, completed the prospect. On the terrace commanding this superb view Cameron built the Portico Pavilion as a kind of gazebo. It had the form of a classical temple with sixteen Ionic columns. Its pediments, decorated with high reliefs by Ivan Prokofyev, show Apollo with a lyre and Minerva, goddess of wisdom. The refined proportions of the Pavilion, its elegant shape and delicate moulded decorations gave it an intimate character, and made it one of the most important architectural features of the Private Garden. In 1803 the marble group of The Three Graces, the work of Paolo Triscorni, was set up inside the Portico. The graceful female figures supported a vase on a column, and their smooth contours harmonized remarkably well with the lines of the pavilion. The group stood in sunlight most of the time, filling Cameron's colonnade with a sense of joy and the charm' of feminine beauty, and giving the building a poetic atmosphere. The Pavilion of the Three Graces, as it began to be called after 1803, was the last thing that Cameron built in or around St Petersburg.

From the succession of Paul I to the throne until his death in 1801, Vincenzo Brenna was in charge of all building works, both in the palace and in the park. In those four years Pavlovsk changed from a tasteful and refined country estate into a stately imperial residence.

Brenna, a gifted architect and painter decorator, energetically set about creating extensive new areas in a manner which differed greatly from that of his predecessor. The intimacy which was the mark of all Cameron's work gave way to solemn grandeur. The park had to serve as a rich and beautiful background for sumptuous festivities, receptions and ceremonies which befitted the way of life of a powerful monarch. Brenna was an admirer of that grand and solemn style found in the gardens of the villas around Rome. Laid out in a mountainous country, they had stone terraces, great stairways, fountains, marble and bronze statuary. At Pavlovsk the architect was able to make use of the most effective features of design characteristic of Italian gardens. His plans were conceived on a lavish scale, as was appropriate in view of the park's new function.

Brenna devoted great attention to those sections of the park which adjoined the Palace, to those which could be seen from the windows.

One of the first parts to assume a new stately aspect was the area round the Palace Bridge. Down the steep bank Brenna built a magnificent stone stairway decorated with marble vases and statues, copies of antique sculptures. On the hilltop above he placed an ornate wooden pavilion, the Treillage, an interesting example of eighteenth-century garden architecture. The basic idea was furnished by the pergola, a feature of the Italian garden, a light wooden framework over which were trained vines and climbing plants. The pavilion at Pavlovsk was, however, quite a large structure with a complex ground plan, consisting of several parts. The central part was surmounted by a high trellised dome. The walls, also in trelliswork, had carved wooden decorations. The pavilion, with its columns and domes, surrounded by tall slender pines, looked like an effective stage set. From the terrace a beautiful view opened up of the Marienthal Pool and of the sombre Swiss Mountains in the background. The Treillage and its stairway completed the ensemble of the Marienthal Pool and linked it to the Palace. Brenna's talents as architect and decorator were brilliantly displayed in the areas adjoining the newly built wings of the Palace. These parts of the estate are grand and festive in the extreme and the natural character of the terrain is cleverly used to create a stately Italian-style park.

On the left side of the Lime Avenue, in the place of Cameron's "wilderness", Brenna created the Great Circles - two octagonal parterres with a formal layout. In the centre of each, where a fountain would be in an Italian garden, a low round platform was built of large ashlar blocks of tufa. Flights of steps led up onto each platform from all four sides. In the middle stood marble statues by Pietro Baratta - one was called Peace, and the other Justice. Originally the parterres were surrounded by high lime hedges clipped into walls, which turned the Great Circles into vast green open-air rooms (in the nineteenth century acacia hedges replaced the limes). The decorative effect depended on the juxtaposition of the green of the hedges, the bright colours of the flowers and the white of the marble sculpture. Brenna left some trees growing naturally around the parterres, and these served as a link between the formal garden and the neighbouring landscaped areas, notably the valley of the Slavianka just below.

These two parts of the park were joined by a stone stairway of sixty-four steps. To make it appear longer Brenna cleverly interrupted the steps with landings and made the stairway narrower at the top than at the bottom. He decorated the top and bottom landings with pairs of marble and iron lions, and placed vases on the balustrade at the top. All this gave the stairway an air of massiveness and grandeur. It was near to the Palace and served a purpose; when the imperial family set off for a walk they were surrounded by all due magnificence prescribed by court etiquette.

The same purpose was served by the ornate Turkish Tent which terminated the avenue connecting the two Great Circles. This light wooden structure shaped as a marquee was surmounted by a carved and gilded eagle, and brightly painted by Gonzaga. It gave this corner of the park a resemblance to a stage set. The Tent was used by Paul's family on the occasions when the Knights of the Order of Malta held their ceremonies in'the Parade Ground.

Not far from the Turkish Tent, but on the other side of the Lime Avenue, Brenna constructed, at the same time, a small wooden theatre for court performances. It was made of trelliswork and decorated with sculptural groups in plaster. To free the' site for the Theatre, the circular pleached walk belonging to Cameron's Aviary Garden was destroyed. The new building spoiled the general design and deprived the Garden of its intimate character. Brenna's gifts as a park designer found expression in the new areas he laid out on the edges of the estate in the 1790s. These received the names of the Old and New Sylvia. The name, connected with the Latin silva, a wood, was fashionable at the, end of the eighteenth century when similar wooded areas existed in many European parks. The Sylvia at Chantilly, the estate of Prince Conde, where Paul and his wife were given a magnificent reception during their Grand Tour, became the model for the Sylvias at Gatchina and Pavlovsk, where local conditions gave them their own characteristic features.

The Old Sylvia is comparatively modest in area. It was intended as a place where one could go for a stroll. This secluded part of the park is on the high bank of the Slavianka and its natural limits are the river valley and a ravine, flooded to form two pools separated by a dam. The predominance of conifers - pines and firs - creates a romantic atmosphere of a sombre old wood.

The focal point of the Old Sylvia is a round clearing, like a great open-air hall among the greenery, a rond point from which twelve straight walks radiate (hence the other name for the area - The Twelve Walks). At the end of each one stands either a building or a sculpture.

The geometrical layout of this stretch of woodland is emphasized by the trimmed acacia hedges which line the paths. The effect is further heightened by the regular arrangement of the bronze statues, which were set up in 1798. In the centre of the rond point stands Apollo Belvedere, a beautifully made bronze copy of the famous Vatican original. It is surrounded by twelve other statues which stand between the walks - the Nine Muses, Aphrodite Kallipygos, Flora and Mercury, also cast after antique originals. Placed along the walk which runs around the perimeter of the Old Sylvia, are four bronze statues of Niobe and her children. The perfect classical forms of the statues, and the dark colour of the bronze touched lightly with a noble patina, blend harmoniously with the setting of evergreens. The woodland provides an excellent background for the statuary, and the sculptures in their turn became an essential part of the scenery. Brenna made the whole area astonishingly beautiful and poetic.

In contrast to the formal character of the Old Sylvia, the New Sylvia, which lies next to it, is simpler in design and more varied in the choice of tree and shrub species. This area, stretching in a long narrow strip along the right bank of the Slavianka, assumed its final shape by 1800.

Five avenues, lined with hedges of clipped acacia, form the basic plan of the New Sylvia. The avenues run through the woodland in straight, almost parallel lines, breaking in places to lead into round, oval or rectangular openings, a kind of green woodland halls. These woodland "halls" and the "corridors" between them form a kind of maze.

The New Sylvia with its thick growth of deciduous and evergreen trees, among which old firs and tall ancient pines predominate, remained a natural piece of woodland. Its walks, being relatively narrow and lined with trees, looked like forest tracks despite the hedges along their sides. The walks were cleverly designed so as to evoke various moods. The central one was wider than the rest, and groups of people could stroll along it without inconvenience, while the tracks bordering on the White Birch area were shaded and quiet, with an atmosphere of meditation and solitude. By contrast, the walk along the edge of the sloping river-bank is light and' joyful, with gaps between the trees through which the sunlit views"of the Slavianka valley can be enjoyed.

The remoteness of the New Sylvia is emphasized by the lone marble column which stands in one of 'the openings along the walk nearest to the river bank. It is called, romantically, the Land's End (Le Bout du monde), as the park once terminated at this point. Originally this slender column, made by Cameron, stood at the end of the Lime Avenue opposite the Palace, and it was moved here by Brenna when the New Sylvia was being laid out. Apart from this one single piece of architecture the designer would not allow any decorative buildings or sculpture in the area, as he did not wish to detract attention from the beauty of the woods.

In these same years the Great Star, an area to the north of the palace, began to acquire a character similar to that of the New Sylvia. Here Brenna cleverly added a series of avenues, walks, and openings of regular shape, lined with hedges, to Cameron's woodland roads. Twelve avenues radiating from a central rand point were cut by cross paths to form a' star pattern. Hence the name of the area. It was also occasionally called the New Garden. Its network of comfortable walks and cosy openings made it an ideal place for strolls and for rides in a coach or on horseback.

In the central rond point Brenna built the so-called Round Hall. It was rectangular in plan, with apses on the sides and columned porticoes at front and back, and was intended to be used for musical evenings and concerts. Hence its other name, the Music Pavilion (Salon de musique).

The beauty of the Great Star area, which retained the appearance of a tract of natural woodland, was enhanced by irregularly shaped ponds.

The wooded areas of the park were laid out by Brenna to present, basically, what is known as "bounded vistas". But he was equally skilful in creating broad open views, with some architectural feature or other serving as' the focal point. A good example is the Amphitheatre in the Slavianka valley where the composition embraces the river and both its banks.

The stone amphitheatre is approached by one of the walks which run through the Old Sylvia. It stands on a high riverside hill, which Brenna shaped into a truncated pyramid. A flight of steps leads to a semicircular platform made of tufa and provided with a bench backed by a balustrade, in the centre of which stands a statue of Flora. It was here that the honoured guests were placed, while the other spectators found accommodation as best they could on the steps or on the turf.

The stage was on the opposite, that is, left bank of the river. Clumps of trees were planted to serve as wing screens, and long clipped hedges ran down the slope at each side. Grassy terraces, adorned with fountains and linked by stairways, descended from the stage towards the river which was widened at this point to form a large artificial pool of regular shape. The pool was the setting for aquatic pantomimes in which small sailing vessels and brightly painted. rowing boats took part. The Amphitheatre looked its best during firework displays' and festive illuminations, at which times it resembled the open-air theatres of the Italian villas.

A little further downstream, at the very edge of the water, Brenna built the Peel Tower and watermill, a piece of idyllic, sentimental eighteenth-century whimsy. This tall round structure with a conical thatched roof had a stairway attached to the outside, which led to the upper floor. The stairway was supported by birch trunks. The thatched roof, the intentionally decrepit-looking stair, the long iron flue carried right through the wall onto the facade, and the walls skilfully painted by Gonzaga to create an illusion of ancient brickwork patched up with boards, gave the building the look of a classic ruin taken over for use as a dwelling-place by the peasants. In the Tower, however, the appointments were far from rustic. The sumptuous drawing-room was decorated with gold-embroidered muslin, mouldings, paintings, a marble fireplace and noble. furniture. Maria Feodorovna used to go to the Peel Tower to relax. Next to it was a wooden bridge, and beside that a plain water mill, built of old logs and planks. The mill was, at the same time, a sort of shower cabin: it had a cascade inside, under which one could bathe. The noise of the wheels and the splash of falling water enlivened the idyllic picture. The Peel Tower was the most effective of all the pastoral buildings .in the park, and served as the focal point of the "rural" scene in the Slavianka valley. A great number of pictures, engravings and drawings of the Tower which were made at the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, testify to its popularity.

Brenna paid great attention to the decoration of the waterfalls. Cameron's Great Cascade by the Round Lake was surmounted in 1794 by a wall with a balustrade and vases, made of rough Pudost limestone. and designed in the fashion of Italian villas.

Brenna gave the cascade in the ravine between the Sylvias the appearance of a classic ruin, with time-worn tufa vases and figures of lions. Round about he scattered at random fragments of ancient statues and busts, as well as broken pieces of marble columns, all of which had been brought from Rome (some of these are now in the Hermitage, others in the Pavlovsk Palace Museum). Such lavish use of antique objects created a convincing illusion of great age, and the structure really looked like a genuine ancient ruin. The Ruin Cascade knit together two woodland areas, the Old and the New Sylvias.

During the years of his work at Pavlovsk, Brenna set up in the park numerous gates, both large and small, with posts of porous tufa which harmonized well with the scenery. Some of these were monumental gates serving as stately entrances to the imperial residence, others were more modest, marking the boundaries between the different sections of the park. After Brenna's departure from Russia in .August 1802, the building works on the ,estate were carried on by Andrey Voro,nikhin and Carlo Rossi.

Voronikhin designed a stone landing at the bottom of Brenna's monumental stairway by the Marienthal Pool. The landing was decorated with granite lions. The bridge by the Cold Bath was given four marble figures of galloping centaurs. Marble vases were placed along both sides of the main avenue in the Private Garden.

The architect's refined taste enabled him to develop the already existing ensembles with great artistic tact. In 1811, when he built the Open-air Theatre next to Brenna's Great Circles, he used the traditional forms of eighteenth-century garden design. The walls of the Theatre, and the wings on its stage, were made of light trelliswork entwined with climbing plants. This solution helped to integrate the new structure into the formal area of the Great Circles, with their clipped hedges and parterres of geometric design.

In 1807 Voronikhin built the Visconti Bridge in the Slavianka valley. One of the finest in the park, it is called after Visconti, the Italian master mason who constructed it. This bridge bounds the view of a broad expanse of river, and it was this that determined its design. Its outline, with the smooth curve of the span and the decorative stone vases on the abutments, as well as the facing of yellowish grey tufa limestone, gave the bridge great beauty and made it the key feature in a vast scene.

In place of the decayed and already old-fashioned water mill by the Peel Tower Voronikhin buil a stone bridge with a flat low span and wrought-iron railings of delicate design. In spite of its fairly large size it gives the impression of a light structure appropriate to a park.

One of Voronikhin's most poetic creations is the Rose Pavilion (1807\-12) which stands on the threshold of the White Birch area. Originally built as a country house for Prince Piotr Bagration, it needed only a few alterations in the interior. A small square wooden building with a dome and with columned porticoes on all four sides, the Rose Pavilion owed its charm to its graceful proportions and beautiful shape. The furniture in Karelian birch and poplar wood, made to Voronikhin's designs, was perfectly suited to the style of the building. The Pavillon des roses owed its name to the vast number of very rare rose bushes growing around it, and everything in the house - the porcelains, the decorative vases, the candelabra, the delicately embroidered coverings on the furniture - bore its rose emblem. The refined and intimate style of the furnishings excellently harmonized with V oronikhin 's lyrical architecture. The Rose Pavilion was one of the best examples of wooden architecture of the Russian country estate type at the beginning of the nineteenth century.

In the summer of 1812, when the Russians fought desperately against the invading French army led by Napoleon, many poets and prose writers, such as Vasily Zhukovsky, Ivan Krylov, Nikolay Karamzin, Nikolay Gnedich, Fiodor Glinka, and Yury Neledinsky-Meletsky, were frequent visitors at the Rose Pavilion. Here they gave readings of their works in prose and verse, devoted, as was natural at the time, to the patriotic theme. The pages of the albums which were usually placed on the tables for the visitors' use, bear numerous notes and sketches left by these remarkable people. There are not a few drawings signed O. K., the initials of Orest Kiprensky, a leading artist of the day. One of the albums contains an autograph text by Krylov, the fabulist; it is his patriotic fable, The Cornflower, written here at Pavlovsk.

In June 1814, the Pavilion was extended for a celebration held in honour of the victory over Napoleon and the homecoming of the Russian army. A vast ballroom, designed by Rossi and Gonzaga and decorated with paintings, garlands of silk flowers and chandeliers of painted tin and gilt carved wood, was built on to it within a short space of time, a little over two weeks.

The architect Thomas de Thomon worked for several years at Pavlovsk in close collaboration with Voronikhin. He was commissioned by the widowed Empress to design a memorial to Paul I. The Mausoleum, a dignified building erected in 1808-9 in the thick of the woodland lying next to the New Sylvia, was built under the direction of Voronikhin.

As the site for the Mausoleum Thomas de Thomon chose a natural ravine surrounded by a walJ of ancient trees, calculating the effect that would be produced by the wild wood suddenly opening to reveal a noble classical edifice. The Mausoleum has the severe form of a Greek temple with a portico of four massive Doric columns carved out of Finnish rappakivi granite. The mourning masks which were placed on the frieze convey a feeling of deep grief.

The interior, too, has the appearance of a genuine burial vault. Its windows are set high !lp in the smooth marble walls; the lunettes are decorated with groups of weeping genii in bas-relief. At the far end of the room stands a dignified sculptural monument carved by Ivan Martos. A woman in antique robes is kneeling before an urn; her crowned head is bent low, her arms, listlessly lying on the tombstone, embrace the foot of the urn. Her whole figure expresses submission to the hard decree of fate.

The young Pushkin, deeply moved by the sculpture, described his impression of it in these words: "Her anguish, her despair are boundless. The smiling morn sees her grieving, the warm sun cannot dry her tears, and the pale moon, daughter of the silent night, finds her alone with her sorrow."

No other Russian classical memorial monument built in the early nineteenth century can equal the Mausoleum for its expressive power.

Carlo Rossi, who became the chief architect at Pavlovsk after Voronikhin's death, played an important part in the formation of the park's architectural aspect.

In the years 1815 and 1816 a series of pretty arbours, shelters and summerhouses were built to Rossi's designs. In these works he made extensive use of clipped trees, trimmed hedges, and creepers. Climbing plants and flowers grew up the trellis walls of the Turkish Arbour, an attractive leafy shelter decorated with iron vases, built to replace Brenna's Turkish Tent which had become old and dilapidated. By the Peel Tower Bridge Rossi built a shady Hop Arbour, a light wooden structure surrounded by clipped limes, the whole thickly clustered by trailing hop plants. A series of summerhouses constructed completely of wood were designed according to the canons of late classicism. The most interesting of these were the shelter with a trellised dome resting on eight columns, built over Martos' monument to Alexandra Pavlovna, and the Temple of Love on the island in the Rose Pavilion Pool.

Rossi decorated the park with remarkable examples of artistic ironwork: perfect cast-iron gates, attractively designed benches, vases and ferry landings. The case of the Iron Bridge (1823) will serve to illustrate Rossi's careful attitude towards the existing architectural ensemble as it had developed up to his time. The bridge was built across the Slavianka by the Temple to Friendship. It is light in construction, with lattice railings and elegant vases, the pedestals of which Rossi adorned with entwined dolphins, thus repeating a motif on the frieze of Cameron's Temple to Friendship. In this way the bridge united in a single composition two buildings which belonged to different epochs.

Rossi's long years of work at Pavlovsk concluded with the construction of the monumental iron gate at the entrance to the residence. Its design owes much to the triumphal arches of Antique Rome.

The last of the great masters and the one who gave the park and the gardens their final shape was the brilliant Pietro Gonzaga. Whereas Cameron and Brenna had tried to shape Pavlovsk in the image of English and Italian parks, Gonzaga's approach was quite different: he wished to bring out-the full beauty of the actual local countryside. He appreciated the poetry of the northern woodland, and of the great expanses of the Russian plain with its meadows and copses.

Gonzaga created a new, Russian type of landscaped park with wide stretches of plain country and modest northern scenery, without any architectural or sculptural adornments. Most of his attention was :devoted to the grouping of trees and bushes, and siting them in landscape so as to form a variety of compositions. By a careful selection of species, cutting down some trees and planting others, he achieved unexpected chiaroscuro effects and striking colour combinations.

Gonzaga had a splendid opportunity for landscaping on a large scale when he was commissioned to improve the dusty Parade Ground which Paul I had used to drill and review troops. Between 1803 and 1813 he transformed it into a beautiful piece of parkland with several vast artificial pools, in the biggest of which was an island. The lovely scenery of the banks was enhanced by being reflected in the mirror-like surface of the water. To make the comparatively small (31 hectares altogether) area look larger, the artist used, in the arrangement of the trees, a purely theatrical device, based on the same principle as stage wings: he placed his clumps as side screens forming receding perspectives. Carefully planned landscape compositions unfolded before the viewer as he moved along the walks which crossed the area and wound along the banks of the pools.

Although prospects are revealed between the thick shady groves and clumps of trees, the views in the Parade Ground are cosy and intimate, not sweeping or majestic. This general mood is strengthened by the effect of trees left standing singly and in groups in the lawns, and by the very types of trees, all of them local, characteristic of the northern countryside. Gonzaga chose the trees for their shapes as well as for the colours of their foliage at various times of the year. The place is especially beautiful .in the autumn when it is decked in the colourful golds of the maples and birches, the silver of the willows, the bronze of the oaks, the dark green of the conifers, and the scarlet clusters of rowan berries.

In complete contrast to the happy and cosy atmosphere of the Parade Ground is that of the Valley of the Pools (1801). Here the deep woodland ravines with their little streams were turned into a double chain of pools. Some of them look dark and deep because of the thick curtains of trees around their banks. This woodland area with its narrow paths is sombre and mysterious, but even here one comes across sunny clearings on the banks of the pools.

In the Venus Pool Gonzaga made the Enchanted Island, sometimes called the Island of Love. Small and covered with trees, it was surrounded by a trelliswork arcade with climbing plants and elegant flower vases of cast iron and marble. In the centre, on a granite pedestal, stood a marble statue of Cupid.

Romantically appropriate, in the solitude of the Valley of the Pools where it was built, was a gazebo of stone, called the New Chalet. This "rural dwelling" with its thatched roof supported on birch trunks had a belvedere, to which led a stairway with "rustic" railings made of rough limbs of birch-trees. The interior was painted by Gonzaga with idyllic rural motifs: flower baskets standing in semicircular niches in the upper part of the walls, and pigeons under a shed roof on the ceiling.

One of the largest sections of the park (245 hectares), which it took Gonzaga many years to landscape, was the White Birch area. Retaining eight of Cameron's old cuttings which radiated from a rand point with a ring of birch trees in the centre, the artist added a long English Road. It winds and weaves through the thick woodland, traverses the glades, and cuts across the old straight roads. The White Birch is a flat area. There are no hills here, nor any ravines, or pools or even any small streams. Such was the "unappealing" terrain in which Gonzaga began to create a northern landscape with wide open spaces typical of Russian scenery. To do this he had to clear large areas of wild wood, opening the prospects, sometimes even to the distant fields beyond the park boundary. Here and there Gonzaga planted shady groves, groups of huge pines, and single oaks and birches which were differently perceived from different viewpoints: either standing out against the forest encircling the White Birch, or merging with it.

Completely rejecting the idea of the formal alley lined with trees at regular intervals, Gonzaga placed trees at odd, as if accidental, intervals along his avenues, so that they did not block the view of the surrounding scenery. Some of his prospects, however, are calculated to open only from a definite viewpoint. Th us, a sudden bend in a stretch of the English Road lying in a tract of dense forest reveals the so-called Loveliest Place, or Fairy Field. This is a huge green meadow surrounded by trees, in the centre of which, like a great island, stands a beautiful shady copse.

Gonzaga's landscapes are an artistic inheritance handed down to us from an outstanding park designer who had a deep and sincere appreciation of the beauty of Russian countryside.

The result of decades of work which had been done by the great architects, painters and sculptors, and by thousands of nameless work people, was a true masterpiece of Russian park design. "Its rare charm is Pavlovsk's main feature: it was intended to satisfy all tastes, and one may make so lold as to say that it has something to match any mood": this was the verdict of the age.

« previous chapter next chapter »

 
Alexander Palace Time Machine

Luxury Store Websites for 2015

Luxury stores present their products with class and style through Pallasart Web Design

Home, Fashion and Web Color Trends for 2015

Learn about the latest in color trends for 2015 to keep your home, wardrobe, and website current and fresh.