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The first room beyond the Great Hall is the Chevalier Dining Room that was also created to Rastrelli’s design. It is not particularly large and so the architect placed mirrors and false windows containing mirrors on the walls, making the hall spacious and bright. The treatment of the interior is typical of the Baroque, dominated by carved and gilded ornament of stylized flowers and seashells. The gilded dessus-de-porte – over-door – compositions are particularly magnificent.

After the carving was silvered during refurbishment in the 1860s, the hall became known as the Silver Dining Room. It retained that appearance right up to the war. In the post-war restoration the room once more regained the golden decoration intended for it by Empress Elizabeth’s court architect.

The Chevalier Dining Room is adorned by a multi-tiered tiled stove with cobalt painting, columns and niches. Heating stoves like this, created to Rastrelli’s designs, were an inseparable part of all the state rooms in the main suite of the palace.

A ceiling painting was installed in the dining-room in the middle of the nineteenth century as part of the redecoration of the interiors overseen by Andrei Stakenschneider. From the imperial storerooms the architect chose a canvas of Alexander the Great and the Family of King Darius of Persia by the eighteenth-century artist K. Balk and complemented it with stucco medallions with painted insets. When the décor of the hall was recreated after the war another painting was placed in the centre of the ceiling – a work by an unknown Russian artist of the mid-1700s inspired by the ancient myth of the sun-god Helios and Eos, the goddess of the dawn (from the stocks of the State Russian Museum). The two deities are depicted surrounded by figures embodying the seasons of the year.

Displayed on the tables in the Chevalier Dining Room are ite ms from the celebrated “Order Services” that are decorated with the badges and sashes of Russian orders of chivalry. They were made between 1777 and 1785 at the private porcelain factory established by Francis Gardner at Verbliki near Moscow. For many decades these services adorned the tables during the gala dinners on the feast-days of the heavenly patrons of the Russian Empire’s pre-eminent decorations – the Orders of St Andrew the First-Called, St George, St Alexander Nevsky and St Vladimir.

In the 1780s, when the then mistress of the Catherine Palace Catherine II had moved into new apartments created by Charles Cameron, the Chevalier Dining Room was used for small gatherings in the evenings and the occasional “miniature balls”.


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