Our large-scale reconstruction project of eight rooms in the Zubov Wing of the Catherine Palace, launched together with PAO Gazprom last October, is moving forward. During a press tour on 28 July we informed local mass media representatives of our progress and plans.
The Private Space of Catherine II project includes the reconstruction of the Blue Study or Snuffbox, the Mirror and Silver Studies, the Bedroom, the Domed and Chinese Halls, the Dressing Room and the Raphael Room. Those were the private apartments of Catherine the Great, designed for her by Charles Cameron and Giacomo Quarenghi in the eighteenth century and destroyed during World War Two.
‘Bringing back to mankind what was completely lost is a massive and difficult undertaking,’ says Mr Boris Igdalov, Director of the Tsarskoselskaya Amber Workshop responsible for the restoration of Catherine’s rooms and many other interiors of Tsarskoe Selo, including the Amber Room. ‘That is why the current, not-very-noticeable preparation stage is extremely important. It includes the development and refinement of project designs aiming to recreate the lost interior decorations inch by inch, millimeter by millimeter.’
As of now, the reconstruction designs of the Dressing and Raphael Rooms are nearing completion and that of the Chinese Hall is underway. The restorers are working on the wooden columns and stucco panels for the Domed Hall. The Mirror Study parquet flooring, which had only a small surviving fragment, is half ready now. The old brickwork in the rooms has been cleaned from later layers.
According to Director Olga Taratynova of Tsarskoe Selo, the preparation stage will soon give way to a thorough reconstruction process expected to be finished in 2023. The Museum is going to resume negotiations with Chinese companies, interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, to find substitute panels for the Chinese Hall. ‘We have found makers to recreate the majolica decorations for the Mirror Study and the “complex” glass for the Bedroom and the Blue Study.’
Truly invaluable for this project are the iconographic materials in the Tsarskoe Selo collection showing the eighteenth-century masterpieces before they were destroyed. Reconstruction work is based on nineteenth-century watercolours, pre-WWII photos and a series of coloured Autochromes of 1917.
Thanks to our previous co-projects with PAO Gazprom, the Catherine Palace’s Chapel was revived and unveiled in April 2019 and the Lyons Hall in June 2019. The latter is expecting its final details—the lapis-lazuli window decorations and the marble fireplaces with putto figures and lapis-lazuli incrustation—to be installed in December this year.