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The Common study

The Common study (245 Kb)

The Common studyCharles Cameron conceived the project of the Common Study with wallpaper "with trees and birds" and a stove of "plaster work with an alabaster bust on top". In the 1790s, Vincenzo Brenna took the decision to paint the walls of the room with size paint. Andrei Voronikhin replaced the stove with a gray marble fireplace after the fire of 1803. In 1858, an oval window was cut through from the Common Study into the Dark Pantry and the Grand Duchess Alexandra Josifovna installed a copper bath faced with mahogany. The rest of the decor, however, remained untouched. When the Common Study was being restored after the war, the interior was returned to the state it had been in at the start of the nineteenth century. The room was so named because it served as a study for all the members of the family. An inventory of 1817 describes walls covered in "pictures ... painted in oil and dry paints, pencil drawings and miniatures small and large - 163 pieces". Among the numerous works hanging on the walls were works by Maria Feodorovna and her children. Central place was occupied by Family Portrait (Karl Kugelgen, 1800), depicting Pavel, Maria and all their ten children, including a bust of Olga, who died at the age of three. A bureau stands in the centre of the room (David Roentgen workshop, Germany, 1786).

The Common studyA firescreen was placed in front of the fireplace (Hambs workshop, St Petersburg, 1794). A medallion contains a drawing made by Maria Feodorovna in 1790 after an original by Angelica Kauffmann. The Common Study contains one of the rarest exhibits in the palace collection - an exquisite lady's writing desk personally commissioned by Maria Feodorovna (Hambs workshop, St Petersburg, 1793). It was manufactured from mahogany, with bronze gilt details, an ivory balustrade and glass insets with painted designs. Maria Feodorovna painted a copy of Angelica Kauffmann's picture The Three Graces Attending Venus on the glass cover. The desk complex also includes ivory candelabra with metallic lamp-shades, two small knives and a signet with amber handles, an ivory and amber writing set and a small amber pencil-box. Maria presented this entire suite of objects to Catherine the Great, who placed it in the Room of Rarities in the Hermitage. The Common Study also contains several works painted by Maria Feodorovna on frosted glass in wooden carved gilt frames. These are again copies from the works of Angelica Kauffmann - The Judgement of Paris, Industry, Ward of Patience and Persistence, Crowned by Glory and Endowed with Abundance and Artemis. Maria's interest in the Swiss artist would seem to be explained by their personal acquaintance. When Pavel and Maria were travelling around Europe, they visited the artist's studio in Rome and commissioned several pictures from her.

Large French doors lead from the Common Study into the Private Garden. The Pavilion of the Three Graces, designed by Charles Cameron in 1800, can be seen in the perspective of the alley. When Pavel became Emperor, this was his favorite place for holding morning receptions in the summer time and he had a writing desk especially transferred here.


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