Catherine Palace
Overview
 
The Catherine Palace was the Rococo
Rococo
Rococo , also referred to as "Late Baroque", is an 18th-century style which developed as Baroque artists gave up their symmetry and became increasingly ornate, florid, and playful...

 summer residence of the Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n tsars, located in the town of Tsarskoye Selo
Tsarskoye Selo
Tsarskoye Selo is the town containing a former Russian residence of the imperial family and visiting nobility, located south from the center of St. Petersburg. It is now part of the town of Pushkin and of the World Heritage Site Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments.-History:In...

 (Pushkin
Pushkin (town)
Pushkin is a municipal town in Pushkinsky District of the federal city of St. Petersburg, Russia, located south from the center of St. Petersburg proper, and its train station, Detskoye Selo, is directly connected by railway to the Vitebsky Rail Terminal of the city...

), 25 km south-east of St. Petersburg
Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

, Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

.
The residence originated in 1717, when Catherine I of Russia
Catherine I of Russia
Catherine I , the second wife of Peter the Great, reigned as Empress of Russia from 1725 until her death.-Life as a peasant woman:The life of Catherine I was said by Voltaire to be nearly as extraordinary as that of Peter the Great himself. There are no documents that confirm her origins. Born on...

 engaged the German architect Johann-Friedrich Braunstein to construct a summer palace for her pleasure. In 1733, Empress Anna commissioned Mikhail Zemtsov
Mikhail Zemtsov
Mikhail Grigorievich Zemtsov was a Russian architect who practiced a sober, restrained Petrine Baroque style, which he learned from his peer Domenico Tresini...

 and Andrei Kvasov to expand the Catherine Palace. Empress Elizabeth, however, found her mother's residence outdated and incommodious and in May 1752 asked her court architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli
Bartolomeo Rastrelli
Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli was an Italian architect naturalized Russian. He developed an easily recognizable style of Late Baroque, both sumptuous and majestic...

 to demolish the old structure and replace it with a much grander edifice in a flamboyant Rococo
Rococo
Rococo , also referred to as "Late Baroque", is an 18th-century style which developed as Baroque artists gave up their symmetry and became increasingly ornate, florid, and playful...

 style.
Encyclopedia
The Catherine Palace was the Rococo
Rococo
Rococo , also referred to as "Late Baroque", is an 18th-century style which developed as Baroque artists gave up their symmetry and became increasingly ornate, florid, and playful...

 summer residence of the Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n tsars, located in the town of Tsarskoye Selo
Tsarskoye Selo
Tsarskoye Selo is the town containing a former Russian residence of the imperial family and visiting nobility, located south from the center of St. Petersburg. It is now part of the town of Pushkin and of the World Heritage Site Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments.-History:In...

 (Pushkin
Pushkin (town)
Pushkin is a municipal town in Pushkinsky District of the federal city of St. Petersburg, Russia, located south from the center of St. Petersburg proper, and its train station, Detskoye Selo, is directly connected by railway to the Vitebsky Rail Terminal of the city...

), 25 km south-east of St. Petersburg
Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

, Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

.

History

The residence originated in 1717, when Catherine I of Russia
Catherine I of Russia
Catherine I , the second wife of Peter the Great, reigned as Empress of Russia from 1725 until her death.-Life as a peasant woman:The life of Catherine I was said by Voltaire to be nearly as extraordinary as that of Peter the Great himself. There are no documents that confirm her origins. Born on...

 engaged the German architect Johann-Friedrich Braunstein to construct a summer palace for her pleasure. In 1733, Empress Anna commissioned Mikhail Zemtsov
Mikhail Zemtsov
Mikhail Grigorievich Zemtsov was a Russian architect who practiced a sober, restrained Petrine Baroque style, which he learned from his peer Domenico Tresini...

 and Andrei Kvasov to expand the Catherine Palace. Empress Elizabeth, however, found her mother's residence outdated and incommodious and in May 1752 asked her court architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli
Bartolomeo Rastrelli
Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli was an Italian architect naturalized Russian. He developed an easily recognizable style of Late Baroque, both sumptuous and majestic...

 to demolish the old structure and replace it with a much grander edifice in a flamboyant Rococo
Rococo
Rococo , also referred to as "Late Baroque", is an 18th-century style which developed as Baroque artists gave up their symmetry and became increasingly ornate, florid, and playful...

 style. Construction lasted for four years and on 30 July 1756 the architect presented the brand-new 325-meter-long palace to the Empress, her dazed courtiers and stupefied foreign ambassadors.

During Elizabeth's lifetime, the palace was famed for its obscenely lavish exterior. More than 100 kilograms of gold were used to gild the sophisticated stucco façade and numerous statues erected on the roof. It was even rumoured that the palace's roof was constructed entirely of gold. In front of the palace a great formal garden was laid out. It centres on the azure-and-white Hermitage Pavilion near the lake, designed by Zemtsov in 1744, overhauled by Rastrelli in 1749 and formerly crowned by a grand gilded sculpture representing The Rape of Persephone
Persephone
In Greek mythology, Persephone , also called Kore , is the daughter of Zeus and the harvest-goddess Demeter, and queen of the underworld; she was abducted by Hades, the god-king of the underworld....

. The interior of the pavilion featured dining tables with dumbwaiter
Dumbwaiter (elevator)
Dumbwaiters are small freight elevators intended to carry objects rather than people. Dumbwaiters found within modern structures, including both commercial and private buildings, are often connected between two floors...

 mechanisms. The grand entrance to the palace is flanked by two massive "circumferences", also in the Rococo style. A delicate iron-cast grille separates the complex from the town of Tsarskoe Selo.

Although the palace is popularly associated with Catherine the Great, she actually regarded its "whipped cream" architecture as old-fashioned. When she ascended the throne, a number of statues in the park were being covered with gold, in accordance with the last wish of Empress Elizabeth, yet the new monarch had all the works suspended upon being informed about the expense. In her memoirs she censured the reckless extravagance of her predecessor:
"The palace was then being built, but it was the work of Penelope
Penelope
In Homer's Odyssey, Penelope is the faithful wife of Odysseus, who keeps her suitors at bay in his long absence and is eventually reunited with him....

: what was done today, was destroyed tomorrow. That house has been pulled down six times to the foundation, then built up again till it was brought to its present state. The sum of a million six hundred thousand rubles was spent on the construction. Accounts exist to prove it; but besides this sum the Empress spent much money out of her own pocket on it, without ever counting".


In order to gratify her passion for antique and Neoclassical
Neoclassicism
Neoclassicism is the name given to Western movements in the decorative and visual arts, literature, theatre, music, and architecture that draw inspiration from the "classical" art and culture of Ancient Greece or Ancient Rome...

 art, Catherine employed the Scottish architect Charles Cameron
Charles Cameron (architect)
Charles Cameron was a Scottish architect who made an illustrious career at the court of Catherine II of Russia. Cameron, practitioner of early neoclassical architecture, was the chief architect of Tsarskoye Selo and Pavlovsk palaces and the adjacent new town of Sophia from his arrival in Russia in...

 who not only refurbished the interior of one wing in the Neo-Palladian style then in vogue, but also constructed the personal apartments of the Empress, a rather modest Greek Revival structure known as the Agate Rooms and situated to the left from the grand palace. Noted for their elaborate jasper
Jasper
Jasper, a form of chalcedony, is an opaque, impure variety of silica, usually red, yellow, brown or green in color; and rarely blue. This mineral breaks with a smooth surface, and is used for ornamentation or as a gemstone. It can be highly polished and is used for vases, seals, and at one time for...

 decor, the rooms were designed so as to be connected to the Hanging Gardens, the Cold Baths, and the Cameron Gallery (still housing a collection of bronze statuary) - three Neoclassical edifices constructed to Cameron's designs. According to Catherine's wishes, many remarkable structures were erected for her amusement in the Catherine Park. These include the Dutch Admiralty
Dutch Admiralty
The Dutch Admiralty is the name applied to three follies designed in the traditional Dutch style and erected in summer 1773 on the bank of the Large Pond in the Catherine Park of Tsarskoe Selo. The pavilions are flanked by two towers in the Russian Gothic style...

, Creaking Pagoda
Creaking Pagoda
The Creaking Pagoda between two ponds in the landscape park separating the Catherine Palace and Alexander Palace in Tsarskoe Selo, Russia is a reference to the 18th-century taste for Chinoiserie. It was designed by Georg von Veldten. Construction lasted from 1778 to 1786. The walls are decorated...

, Chesme Column
Chesme Column
The Chesme Column in Tsarskoye Selo commemorates three Russian naval victories in the Russo-Turkish War, 1768-1774, specifically the Battle of Chesma. It was constructed in the Large Pond of the Landscape Park of the Catherine Palace to Rinaldi's designs over the years 1774-78...

, Rumyantsev Obelisk, and Marble Bridge
Marble Bridge
The Siberian Marble Gallery between Swan Islands — an artificial archipelago of seven islets in the landscape park of Tsarskoe Selo — spans a rivulet flowing between several ponds. The bridge was modelled after the Palladian Bridge in the park of Wilton House and served as a showcase for the Ural...

.

Upon Catherine's death in 1796, the palace was abandoned in favour of the Pavlovsk Palace
Pavlovsk Palace
Pavlovsk Palace is an 18th-century Russian Imperial residence built by Paul I of Russia near Saint Petersburg. After his death, it became the home of his widow, Maria Feodorovna...

. Subsequent monarchs preferred to reside in the nearby Alexander Palace
Alexander Palace
The Alexander Palace is a former imperial residence at Tsarskoye Selo, on a plateau around 30 minutes by train from St Petersburg. It is known as the favourite residence of the last Russian Emperor, Nicholas II, and his family and their initial place of imprisonment after the revolution that...

 and, with only two exceptions, refrained from making new additions to the Catherine Palace, regarding it as a splendid monument to Elizabeth's wealth and Catherine II's glory. In 1817, Alexander I
Alexander I of Russia
Alexander I of Russia , served as Emperor of Russia from 23 March 1801 to 1 December 1825 and the first Russian King of Poland from 1815 to 1825. He was also the first Russian Grand Duke of Finland and Lithuania....

 engaged Vasily Stasov
Vasily Stasov
Vasily Petrovich Stasov was a Russian architect.-Biography:Stasov was born in Moscow....

 to refurbish some interiors of his grandmother's residence in the Empire style. Twenty years later, the magnificent Stasov Staircase was constructed to replace the old circular staircase leading to the Palace Chapel. Unfortunately, most of Stasov's interiors - specifically those dating from the reign of Nicholas I
Nicholas I of Russia
Nicholas I , was the Emperor of Russia from 1825 until 1855, known as one of the most reactionary of the Russian monarchs. On the eve of his death, the Russian Empire reached its historical zenith spanning over 20 million square kilometers...

 - have not been restored after the destruction caused by the Germans during World War Two.

When the German forces retreated after the siege of Leningrad
Siege of Leningrad
The Siege of Leningrad, also known as the Leningrad Blockade was a prolonged military operation resulting from the failure of the German Army Group North to capture Leningrad, now known as Saint Petersburg, in the Eastern Front theatre of World War II. It started on 8 September 1941, when the last...

, they had the residence intentionally destroyed, leaving only the hollow shell of the palace behind. Prior to World War II, the Russian archivists managed to document a fair amount of the contents, which proved of great importance in reconstructing the palace. Although the largest part of the reconstruction was completed in time for the Tercentenary of St Petersburg in 2003, much work is still required to restore the palace to its former glory. In order to attract funds, the administration of the palace has leased the Grand Hall to such high-profile events as Elton John
Elton John
Sir Elton Hercules John, CBE, Hon DMus is an English rock singer-songwriter, composer, pianist and occasional actor...

's concert for the elite audience in 2001 and the 2005 exclusive party which featured the likes of Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

, Tina Turner
Tina Turner
Tina Turner is an American singer and actress whose career has spanned more than 50 years. She has won numerous awards and her achievements in the rock music genre have led many to call her the "Queen of Rock 'n' Roll".Turner started out her music career with husband Ike Turner as a member of the...

, Whitney Houston
Whitney Houston
Whitney Elizabeth Houston is an American singer, actress, producer and a former model. Houston is the most awarded female act of all time, according to Guinness World Records, and her list of awards include 1 Emmy Award, 6 Grammy Awards, 30 Billboard Music Awards, 22 American Music Awards, among...

, Naomi Campbell
Naomi Campbell
Naomi Campbell is a British model. Scouted at the age of 15, she established herself among the top three most recognisable and in-demand models of the late 1980s and early 1990s, and she was one of six models of her generation declared "supermodels" by the fashion world...

, and Sting.

In Twentieth Century Fox's 1997 animated feature, "Anastasia
Anastasia (1997 film)
Anastasia is a 1997 American animated musical film produced and directed by Don Bluth and Gary Goldman. It was the first feature film to be released by Fox Animation Studios....

", the Catherine Palace is depicted inaccurately as the home of the last imperial family.

Layout

Although Stasov's and Cameron's Neoclassical interiors are superb manifestations of the late 18th-century and early 19th-century taste, the palace is best known for Rastrelli's grand suit of formal rooms known as the Golden Enfilade
Enfilade (architecture)
In architecture, an enfilade is a suite of rooms formally aligned with each other. This was a common feature in grand European architecture from the Baroque period onwards, although there are earlier examples, such as the Vatican stanze...

. It starts at the spacious airy ballroom, the "Grand Hall" or the "Hall of Lights", with a spectacular painted ceiling, and comprises numerous distinctively decorated smaller rooms, including the reproduced Amber Room
Amber Room
The Amber Room in the Catherine Palace of Tsarskoye Selo near Saint Petersburg is a complete chamber decoration of amber panels backed with gold leaf and mirrors...

.

The Great Hall
Great Hall
Great Hall may refer to* Great hall, the main room of a royal palace, nobleman's castle or large manor house* Great Hall of the People, Tiananmen Square, Beijing* Great Hall of the University of Sydney, Australia* Cooper_Union#The_Great_Hall, New York...

, or the Light Gallery as it was called in the 18th century, is a formal apartment in the Russian baroque
Baroque
The Baroque is a period and the style that used exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to produce drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture, painting, literature, dance, and music...

 style designed by Bartolomeo Rastrelli between 1752 and 1756. The Great Hall was intended for more important receptions such as balls, formal dinners, and masquerade
Masquerade ball
A masquerade ball is an event which the participants attend in costume wearing a mask. - History :...

s. The hall was painted in two colors and covers an area of approximately 1,000 square meters. Occupying the entire width of the palace, the windows on the eastern side look out onto the park while the windows of the western side look out to the palace plaza. In the evening, 696 lamps are lit on 12-15 chandeliers located near the mirrors. The halls sculptural and gilded carvings and ornimantation were created according to sketches by Rastrelli and models by Johann Franz Dunker.

Beyond the Great Hall is the dining room for the courtiers in attendance (the Courtiers-in-Attendance Dining Room). The room was designed by Rastrelli in the mid-18th century. The small room is lit by four windows which look out into the formal courtyard. The architect placed false windows with mirrors and mirrored glass on the opposite wall, making the hall more spacious and bright. Decorated in the typical baroque interior style, the hall is filled with gilded wall-carvings, complex gilded pieces on the doors, and ornamental patterns of stylized flowers. The ceiling mural was painted by a well known student of the Russian School from the mid-18th century. It is based on the Greek myth of the sun god Helios
Helios
Helios was the personification of the Sun in Greek mythology. Homer often calls him simply Titan or Hyperion, while Hesiod and the Homeric Hymn separate him as a son of the Titans Hyperion and Theia or Euryphaessa and brother of the goddesses Selene, the moon, and Eos, the dawn...

 and the goddess of the dawn, Eos
Eos
In Greek mythology, Eos is the Titan goddess of the dawn, who rose from her home at the edge of Oceanus, the ocean that surrounds the world, to herald her brother Helios, the Sun.- Greek literature :...

.

Across from the Courtiers-in-Attendance Dining Room, on the other side of the Main Staircase, is the White Formal Dining Room. The hall was used for the empresses' formal dinners or "evening meals". The walls of the dining hall were decorated with the utmost extravagance with gilded carvings. The furnishings consist of gilded carvings on the consoles. The painted mural, The Triumph of Apollo is a copy of a painting completed in the 16th century by Italian artist, Guido Reni
Guido Reni
Guido Reni was an Italian painter of high-Baroque style.-Biography:Born in Bologna into a family of musicians, Guido Reni was the son of Daniele Reni and Ginevra de’ Pozzi. As a child of nine, he was apprenticed under the Bolognese studio of Denis Calvaert. Soon after, he was joined in that...

.

The Portrait Hall is a formal apartment that covers 100 square meters of space. The room's walls boast large formal portraits of Empress Catherine I, Empress Elizabeth Petrovna, as well as paintings of Natalya Alexeyevna, sister of Peter the Great, and Empress Catherine II. The inlaid floors of the hall contain precious woods. The Drawing Room of Alexander I
Alexander I of Russia
Alexander I of Russia , served as Emperor of Russia from 23 March 1801 to 1 December 1825 and the first Russian King of Poland from 1815 to 1825. He was also the first Russian Grand Duke of Finland and Lithuania....

 was designed between 1752 and 1756 and belonged to the Emperor's private suite. The drawing room stood out from the rest of the formal rooms in the palace due to the fact that the walls were covered in Chinese silk
Silk
Silk is a natural protein fiber, some forms of which can be woven into textiles. The best-known type of silk is obtained from the cocoons of the larvae of the mulberry silkworm Bombyx mori reared in captivity...

. Other decor in the room was typical for the palace's formal rooms, a ceiling mural, gilded carvings. The elegant card-tables and inlaid wood commode display Japanese, Chinese, and Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

 porcelain
Porcelain
Porcelain is a ceramic material made by heating raw materials, generally including clay in the form of kaolin, in a kiln to temperatures between and...

.

The Green Dining Room, which replaced Rastrelli's "Hanging Garden" in 1773, is the first of the rooms in the northern wing of the Catherine Palace, designed by Cameron for the future Emperor Paul and his wife. The pistachio-coloured walls of the room are lined with stucco figures by Ivan Martos
Ivan Martos
Ivan Petrovich Martos was a Russian sculptor and art teacher of Ukrainian origin who helped awaken Russian interest in Neoclassical sculpture....

. During the great fire of 1820 the room was seriously damaged, thus sharing the fate of other Cameron's interiors. It was subsequently restored under Stasov's direction.

Other Cameron's interiors include the Waiters' Room, with the inlaid floor of rosewood
Rosewood
Rosewood refers to any of a number of richly hued timbers, often brownish with darker veining, but found in many different hues. All rosewoods are strong and heavy, taking an excellent polish, being suitable for guitars, marimbas, turnery , handles, furniture, luxury flooring, etc.In general,...

, amaranth
Amaranth
Amaranthus, collectively known as amaranth, is a cosmopolitan genus of herbs. Approximately 60 species are recognized, with inflorescences and foliage ranging from purple and red to gold...

 and mahogany
Mahogany
The name mahogany is used when referring to numerous varieties of dark-colored hardwood. It is a native American word originally used for the wood of the species Swietenia mahagoni, known as West Indian or Cuban mahogany....

 and stylish Chippendale
Thomas Chippendale
Thomas Chippendale was a London cabinet-maker and furniture designer in the mid-Georgian, English Rococo, and Neoclassical styles. In 1754 he published a book of his designs, titled The Gentleman and Cabinet Maker's Director...

 card-tables; the Blue Formal Dining-Room, with white-and-blue silk wallpapers and Carrara
Carrara
Carrara is a city and comune in the province of Massa-Carrara , notable for the white or blue-grey marble quarried there. It is on the Carrione River, some west-northwest of Florence....

 marble chimneys; the Chinese Blue Drawing Room, a curious combination of Adam style
Adam style
The Adam style is an 18th century neoclassical style of interior design and architecture, as practiced by the three Adam brothers from Scotland; of whom Robert Adam and James Adam were the most widely known.The Adam brothers were the first to advocate an integrated style for architecture and...

 with the Chinoiserie
Chinoiserie
Chinoiserie, a French term, signifying "Chinese-esque", and pronounced ) refers to a recurring theme in European artistic styles since the seventeenth century, which reflect Chinese artistic influences...

; the Choir Anteroom, with walls lined in apricot-colored silk; and the columned boudoir
Boudoir
A boudoir is a lady's private bedroom, sitting room or dressing room. The term derives from the French verb bouder, meaning "to be sulky" or boudeur, meaning "sulky".- In architecture :...

 of Alexander I
Alexander I of Russia
Alexander I of Russia , served as Emperor of Russia from 23 March 1801 to 1 December 1825 and the first Russian King of Poland from 1815 to 1825. He was also the first Russian Grand Duke of Finland and Lithuania....

, executed in the Pompeian
Pompeii
The city of Pompeii is a partially buried Roman town-city near modern Naples in the Italian region of Campania, in the territory of the comune of Pompei. Along with Herculaneum, Pompeii was destroyed and completely buried during a long catastrophic eruption of the volcano Mount Vesuvius spanning...

style.

External links

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