Elizabeth (1709–1761), the second-oldest daughter of Peter the Great and Catherine I of Russia, was born during the period of Peter’s military victories. In autumn 1741, she overthrew Tsar Ivan VI of Russia, arrested and exiled the Brunswick-Lüneburg family, and usurped the throne. Her reign was one of the calmest, with no natural disasters or social riots. Even the European Seven Years’ War, which started in 1756, lasted only four years for Russia, and was victorious for the Russian army. Not one person was executed on Elizabeth’s orders during her reign. She continued Peter the Great's policies in modernizing Russia, repealed all acts enabled after her father’s death, enhanced the importance of the Senate, established first Russian loan banks for the merchant class, etc. However, she did not trouble about affairs too often. Extraordinarily beautiful and fashion-conscious, Elizabeth adored fineries, balls, masquerades, concerts and other entertainments. Her life of endless enjoyment required luxurious scenery. The brilliant Italian architect Bartolomeo Francesco Rastrelli built for the Empress about twenty grandiose baroque palaces. At one of them, the Winter Palace, she died.
After her mother’s death, Elizabeth inherited Tsarskoe Selo where she had spent her carefree childhood and youth. The estate was her place of hiding from Empress Anna whose main concern was to exclude descendants of Peter the Great and Catherine I from inheriting the throne. After she seized power, Elizabeth was set on revamping her way-too-simple-and-modest rural patrimony. In memory of the Empress’s mother, the old building was preserved as the central part of a spacious new edifice in the Baroque style resembling a resplendent fairyland setting, constructed by the Italian architect Bartolomeo Francesco Rastrelli in 1748-1756. Rastrelli finished the work started by Mikhail Zemtsov Andrei Kvasov Savva Chevakinsky. The palace’s rich, festive appearance and just as luxuriously decorated apartments became a dazzling and awe-inspiring setting for formal receptions, dinners, balls and masquerades. Elizabeth brought new practices to Russian court life, types of entertainment and ways of doing things that were borrowed from Western Europe, but interacted with traditional Russian customs. The Catherine Park was expanded and embellished with marble sculptures and various architectural fancies. Elizabeth turned her mother’s country house at Tsarskoe Selo into a splendid imperial residence.