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THE LIBRARY OF MARIA FEODOROVNA

The Library of Maria Feodorovna (336 Kb)

The Library of Maria FeodorovnaThe Library of Maria Feodorovna was originally based on a project by Vincenzo Brenna and completed sometime around 1793. The decor of the room was much altered by Andrei Voronikhin in 1803 and 1804, though he did retain Brenna's composition as his basis. The library almost exactly repeats the form of the Carpet Study and it too was decorated with three large tapestries, a present from King Louis XVI. The interior was designed by Brenna for these specific carpets. Two of the gobelins hang today in their original places - Jupiter and Juno (Gobelin RoyaI Manufactory, France, 1770s).

The Library of Maria FeodorovnaThe third original gobelin was based on themes of the pastorales of Francois Boucher with two medallions, part of the series of gobelins in the Carpet Study (sold with them). Its place is now taken by the gobelin Don Quixote Conversing with a Charmed Head (Gobelin Royal Manufactory, France, after a cartoon by Charles Coypel), which is of the same origin as Ladies Serving Don Quixote in the Carpet Study. Despite the similarity of the general composition with that of the Carpet Study, this room is basically a library. All the walls are lined with low bookcases. The marble sculptures on them have stood here ever since the late eighteenth century. The statues depict Apollo and the Nine Muses, based on ancient works. They seem to have been made in Rome in the late 1780s by J.H. Dannecker, the court sculptor of the Duke of Wurttemberg. Two other sculptures stand opposite one another on the bookshelves. These were presented to Pavel and Maria by King Victor Amadeus III of Sardinia in 1782, during their visit to Turin. One of them - Pluto Abducting Proserpina (Collini brothers, Italy, 1781) - is preserved in its original. On its base is the inscripion: PAR LES FRERES COLLINI DE TURIN SCULPTEURS DU ROI DE SARDAIGNE FAITE A TURIN L'AN 1781 MARBRE DE CARRARA. The second sculpture, Vestalia, was made by the same masters but vanished during the war. After the war its place was taken by the ancient sculpture Muse at a Cliff, repeating the composition of the famous ancient statue, usually considered a representation of Polyhymnia, Muse of Rhetoric.

From the 1790s onwards, a large writing desk (David Roengten, Germany, 1784) stood at the circular wall. In 1805 it was joined by a chair with jardineres mounted into its back (Russia, early 19th century). After the fire of 1803, the entire suite of Louis XVI gilt furniture was replaced by a new suite in the Empire style painted in imitation of ancient dark bronze (destroyed during the war).

The windows were originally hung with light-green ("celadon") curtains with a border woven with various flowers (Lyons, 1780s). The curtains survived the fire of 1803. A chandelier in the shape of a crystal basket on bronze chains (Russia, early 19th century) was hung on 17 December 1806 in place of the original bronze chandelier of six candles. Here, for the first time in the palace, is an example of a patterned parquet floor made from rare multi-coloured species of wood. The rooms of the central building originally all had such floors, only to be destroyed in the fire of 1803. Neither the designs nor the illustrative blue-prints have survived. When the palace was being restored in 1803 and 1804, panel oak parquet floors were laid everywhere. During the post-war restoration in this century, the four rooms of the state enfilade of Maria Feodorovna were laid with parquetry made circa 1780 after a design by the architect Yury Felten. Felten had originally designed them for the Lanskoi house on Palace Square and they were consequently removed by Catherine to her favourite's quarters in the Grand Palace at Tsarskoe Selo.


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