Author Topic: St. Petersburg imperial country residences news  (Read 361740 times)

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Offline Vladimir_V.

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Re: St. Petersburg imperial country residences news
« Reply #165 on: April 09, 2007, 10:43:54 AM »
Sorry for the long silence.
It is very strange idea, Bob. I have never heard that anybody in Tsarskoe Selo museum wants to recreate the Concert Hall. It is impossible. It sounds like to destroy the Catherine Palace because we want to recreate first small palace of Catherine I, wife of Peter I.
We never see this Quarenghi interior.

Offline Vladimir_V.

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Re: St. Petersburg imperial country residences news
« Reply #166 on: April 09, 2007, 10:45:35 AM »
New exhibition in the Pavlovsk Palace:
Grand Duchess Vera Konstantinovna. (Pavlovsk 1906 – 2001 New York)
(the youngest daughter of Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich, the owner of Pavlovsk)
April 2007 – December 2007

Offline Vassili_Vorontsoff

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Re: St. Petersburg imperial country residences news
« Reply #167 on: April 22, 2007, 01:03:11 PM »
Vlad,

In the post I send to you I talked about some shots of  the agathe rooms in tsarskoye Selo.

I send some:



Offline Tsarfan

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Re: St. Petersburg imperial country residences news
« Reply #168 on: April 24, 2007, 10:26:44 AM »
Does this mean that Nicholas and Alexander's changes (the Maple room & the New Study) will be restored to the Concert Hall?
It seems a shame to destroy the history of the most important residents of the palace.  Their "lifestye" is probably far more important historically than the Quarenghi interiors.

I would argue that being the last  resident does not make one necessarily the most important  resident.  Alexander I and Nicholas I (whose favorite residence was the Alexander Palace) were more important historically than Nicholas II, whose real claim to fame was marrying for love instead of policy, bringing hemophilia into the Russian royal family, isolating the monarchy from the stanchions of its support among the nobility and military, and losing the throne.

Nor do I think that preserving the Alexander Palace as Nicholas and Alexandra knew it contributes that much to our understanding of their lifestyles.  We have vastly more photographic evidence of their lifestyles than of their immediate predecessors', as well as more letters, diaries, and memoires.  Also, Nicholas and Alexandra simply adapted the Alexander Palace as best they could to their needs and desires.  If one wants really to understand them in their preferred domestic settings, it is better to study Livadia, which was entirely their own creation, or the New Palace (which is being rebuilt, I believe), in which they lived far more than is generally recognized.  In fact, they were often resident at the New Palace when officially reported to be at the Alexander Palace.

Most Russians rightly focus on the entire history of their monarchy, paying more attention to the accomplishments of Peter I and Catherine II than to the failures of Nicholas II.  Hence the palaces associated with the glories of the Russian monarchy -- Peterhof, the Winter Palace, the Catherine Palace, Pavlovsk -- justifiably get the money, the attention, and the crowds.

The real claim to fame of the Alexander Palace is not that it was the last residence of Nicholas and Alexandra, but that it is one of the world's jewels of neo-classical architecture.  It is the unfortunate association of the Alexander Palace with Nicholas and Alexandra and the fetishistic association of the building with their melodramatic fates that has obscured the real role of the palace as a document to one of Russia's greatest architects and the patrons of superb taste who engaged him.

I, for one, would love to see the Alexander Palace returned as much as possible to the masterpiece Quarenghi built.  And the Concert Hall was the largest space he created there, being the terminus of a magnificent suite of neoclassical parade rooms that had no equal in that style in Russia . . . or anywhere else of which I know.

Offline ChristineM

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Re: St. Petersburg imperial country residences news
« Reply #169 on: April 24, 2007, 02:39:06 PM »
Vassili, thank you for posting these wonderful photographs of the Agate rooms, they do justice to Charles Cameron's geniuis.   

There are plans afoot to 'restore' the Agate and Jasper rooms.   I really hope not.   Prior to his death, Prince Ranier of Monaco was in discussion about funding their restoration.   Prince Albert has remained resolutely tight-lipped on this matter since his father's death.   The Agate rooms were not - in terms of the general destruction of the ensemble - seriously damaged during WWII.   This was because they were used as the officers' mess during the occupation.   Conservation would not be horrendously expensive.

Tsarfan - I can understand your wish to see that corner of the Alexander Palace restored to Quarenghi's original plan.   I agree that is an obvious and, I have to say, easy decision.    Irrespective of what you feel about Alexandra Feodorovna as an Empress consort, her participation in the creation of the Maple Room was unfairly ridiculed.   This room was absolutely unique - not only in Europe, but in the world.   It was a work of remarkable originality and superb craftsmanship.   It would be my preference to see this extraordinary example of Style Moderne/Art Nouveau/Jugendstil restored.   However, it probably is much more economic to return to the Quarenghi original.

Additionally, the Alexander Palace was used as a home, as Tsarfan writes, by successive monarchs and heirs of the Russian throne.   My preference would be to see the development and progression of the one hundred and twenty three years of occupation reflected in the various fashions and styles.   

However tempting it might be to return the Alexander Palace to its 18th century neo-classical glory, so much would be lost in doing so.   Instead of what once was a living organism, what we would find would be like a fly captured in the amber of time.

My principle concern is to see the structure secured.   $1,000,000 will not even nod at the vast sums required just to do this.

tsaria

Offline Arleen

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Re: St. Petersburg imperial country residences news
« Reply #170 on: April 24, 2007, 06:55:44 PM »
The Agate Room pictures are breathtaking Vasilli, thank you for posting them.

My personal opinion, tho it will never mean anything except to myself, is to have the AP renovated to exactly the time of Nicholas and Alexandra and their family.  That historic period is so important.

Tsaria, the news about the Monaco Royal family is stunning to me, I do hope that Albert will carry thru with plans for a great deal of money for restoration, but not necessarily for the Agate rooms to be restored.  Being selfish I want the 1910 era to come alive again.  But who could ever restore the Maple room?  That has always been my favorite room, the design was breathtaking and so moderne and far sighted of Alexandra and her brother Ernie.  So special!

Oh!  That I had a few million to donate.....

Arleen

Offline hikaru

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Re: St. Petersburg imperial country residences news
« Reply #171 on: April 25, 2007, 01:37:36 AM »
Please do not forget, that Agate rooms were only one place which remained after the war without any changes .
So the scope of restoration work in Agate rooms and Maple room are not the same.

Offline Tsarfan

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Re: St. Petersburg imperial country residences news
« Reply #172 on: April 25, 2007, 08:19:10 AM »
Irrespective of what you feel about Alexandra Feodorovna as an Empress consort, her participation in the creation of the Maple Room was unfairly ridiculed.   This room was absolutely unique - not only in Europe, but in the world.   It was a work of remarkable originality and superb craftsmanship.   It would be my preference to see this extraordinary example of Style Moderne/Art Nouveau/Jugendstil restored.   However, it probably is much more economic to return to the Quarenghi original.

Being a huge fan of the art nouveau movement myself, I agree with your assessment of the Maple Room, Tsaria.  (I have spent hours roaming Barcelona, which has some of Europe's most interesting art nouveau architecture).

However, I tend to view interior design of such a high order as an art form that stands somewhat independent of its owner.  Consequently, I would love to see the Maple Room reconstructed as a lesson in the history of interior design in some museum (with all due credit given to Alexandra and her brother).  However, inside the Alexander Palace I have always felt it introduced a dissonant note into a grand symphony.  Like classicism, art nouveau encompassed all the plastic arts and was conceived to be part of a whole incorporated into exterior and interior structures, furniture, fabrics . . . even picture frames.  I have always thought it must have been jarring to pass from the New Study into a severely classical hallway and then to open the doors onto a pure art nouveau space.

I think palaces such as the Winter Palace are amenable to all kinds of interior modifications, reflecting many eras and styles, without any assault on the whole.  While the Winter Palace was conceived as a baroque edifice, it is just so huge and so "institutional" in purpose and execution that it can be many things at once without undermining the integrity of the whole.  An art nouveau wing or suite in the Winter Palace would make perfect sense.  An art nouveau room  in the Alexander Palace never has to me.

Palaces such as the Alexander Palace strike me as far more "of a piece", with each part inherently dependent on the others.  I liken it more to Pavlovsk, which is the enchanting place it is because it is a fully-integrated masterpiece of consonant interior and exterior design.  I shudder to think what would have been lost had it been a more convenient resident for Nicholas and Alexandra and wound up as the jarring hodge-podge of art nouveau, arts-and-crafts, Jugenstil, neo-Gothic, Eastlake, and classical spaces the Alexander Palace became.

This would bother me a lot less if Nicholas' and Alexandra's renovations had been restricted to the private wing north of the Concert Hall.  That had been, after all, isolated space of no real consequence to the integrity of the palace's design, no matter what anyone did with it.  However, I think the Concert Hall was one of the anchor's of Quarenghi's grand design for the parade spaces, and its loss was truly regrettable.

Please, though, everybody . . . these are highly personal matters of taste and preference, and I would not presume to get into a heated interchange on what's the "right" or "wrong" thing to do with the Alexander Palace.  I save that kind of heat for political and social history, where I think the consequences of various choices are more profound.

Offline ChristineM

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Re: St. Petersburg imperial country residences news
« Reply #173 on: April 25, 2007, 01:14:10 PM »
Tsarfan - a world without culture would be the most hostile of environments - political and social history both prove this.   

Regarding the Alexander Palace, in my opinion, Quarenghi's single stroke of genius in the design of the building lies in its double colonnade.   What we see today is a 'poor' variant of Catherine's original aspirations.   (I have to say, I am relieved the roofs are not littered with statuary, but its a pity the chimneys have gone.)   So, from the word 'go', the Alexander Palace has been modified to suit the developing tastes of and modern conveniences for successive occupants.     

The Alexander Palace was not designed as a state residence.   From the outset it was planned as a family home which could accommodate state occasions.   Surely the occupants of that home ought not to have been constrained in their chosen style of life purely to suit the architectural tastes of following generations?   I am fortunate to have two Victorian homes.   In both cases, walls have been erected and removed (with historic building planning permission) purely to facilitate the way my family chooses to live in the 21st century.    No butlers and maids nowadays!   Equally, Victorian sanitary arrangements were somewhat lacking.   Why should we stop to think about the tastes of whoever will be occupying here in a hundred year's time? 

For Russians and tourists alike, the only reason they are interested in the Alexander Palace is because of the Nicholas/Alexandra assocation.   Indeed up until the Nazi occupation of 1941, after the Winter Palace, the Alexander Palace was the most popular visitor attraction in the Soviet Union.   

I don't know if you have ever 'done' the chateaux of the Loire or the Schlosses of the Rhine, the palaces of St Petersburg and its environs can have a similar effect - in a short space of time, every place begins to look the same.   I have my own reasons for caring passionately about the Alexander Palace, but at the same time I can understand the attraction for visitors to see and feel an atmosphere of domesticity.   In my opinion it is Peter the Great's kitchen and living accommodation in Monplaisir which is by far the most interesting and atmospheric part of the entire Peterhof Palace complex.

I cannot see how leaving the New Study to enter the Corner Drawing Room could be interpreted as 'jarring'.  (The corridor does not belong to any period - just plastered walls with no decoration).    I am fortunate enough to have made this 'transition' frequently.   On the contrary, it is not 'jarring'.   It is like passing from one world into another.   And the Corner Salon was deliberately designed as a 'medulla oblongata' - a crossover between the imperial and private worlds.   Therefore, it is only too easy to see how attractive this transition would be for people cast in the role of emperor and empress.

 At the end of the day, the Alexander Palace was their home and the redesign was their choice.   I can see that for some the destruction of the Concert Hall was nothing short of an act of vandalism, but alongside the destruction wreaked on Russia - political, social, cultural, religious -  in the years immediately following the overthrow of Romanov rule, it is rather insignificant.

tsaria

   

   

« Last Edit: April 25, 2007, 01:16:50 PM by tsaria »

Offline Tsarfan

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Re: St. Petersburg imperial country residences news
« Reply #174 on: April 25, 2007, 03:40:25 PM »
In my opinion it is Peter the Great's kitchen and living accommodation in Monplaisir which is by far the most interesting and atmospheric part of the entire Peterhof Palace complex.

I know exactly what you mean.  I have visited the Biltmore House (the largest private residence ever built in the U.S.) several times but enjoyed it most after the private service areas were opened up so that one could see the "below stairs" working of the household.  Ditto with Versailles, as the renovations began to extend to the private apartments of Mesdames and lesser lights.  And one of the most fascinating pictures I ever saw of the Catherine Palace was a watercolor of Alexander I's bedroom, with his boots standing by a chair and some clothes tossed casually onto furniture.  It really brought home a sense that there was a time people actually lived in these spaces.

Truth be told, part of the reason I would prefer the restoration of the Concert Hall is that I just do not find the private lives of Nicholas and Alexandra appealing . . . largely because I think their succumbing to their private needs and desires had so much to do with the destruction of the Russian monarchy and the passing of these magnificent buildings from venues of human activity into sterile museum space -- or worse.  This is distinctly at odds with the fact that I literally froze when standing in front of Monomakh's Cap, realizing it had once crowned the head of Peter the Great.  I'm as capable of a fetishistic bout as the next person and, just as with the next person, it seizes me when it involves something associated with someone I admire and leaves me cold when the object is associated with someone I abjure.

Oh, well . . . no one is going to ask me what to do with the Alexander Palace in any case.

Offline ChristineM

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Re: St. Petersburg imperial country residences news
« Reply #175 on: April 26, 2007, 03:58:08 AM »
I can fully appreciate what you write Tsarfan.   Like Bob, I have seen Romanov descendants - you know, progeny of the people who plotted, schemed against and ultimately left Nicholas, Alexandra and their children to face their fates - fall on the handles and on the French doors of the Semi-Circular Hall, crying copiously and asking, 'Are these the handles they touched... are these really the doors the walked through... on their way to exile?'    Oh, don't get me started.

If you haven't visited Monplaisir, it is a MUST.   It is my favourite of all Russian imperial/aristocratic palaces.   Its situation alone is breathtaking.   The Niznhy Dvorets was in a similar situation, overlooking the Finnish Gulf.   I think it looked ghastly - like a lego castle.   Perhaps Tsarfan is right, Nicholas, Alexandra, Elizabeth and Ernie had a bit of a taste bypass - excepting the Maple Room.   However, I still feel that any restoration at the Alexander Palace should reflect the last reign.   After securing the structure, I would begin with the Childrens' Rooms.   On reflection however, so effectively has the Nicholas and Alexandra occupation been expunged from the place, it will take the work of a genius to recreate it.

tsaria

Offline Vassili_Vorontsoff

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Re: St. Petersburg imperial country residences news
« Reply #176 on: April 26, 2007, 09:36:09 AM »
Tsarfan,you are a bit tough with Nicolas II,probably was he weak but as regards to the reach of his politic even nowadays in Russia's society,I think it is important to preserve the alexander palace in his last state as the place of life of Nicolas....

Livadia,was probably much more a creation of their own than the Alexander palace,however according to the time they passe there (constructed in 1911)and according to the fact that Tsarskoye Selo was the heart of the power until revolution ,Alexander palace is probably the best place to embody their life style...

Personaly,I see the lost of the concert ball as a failure nevetheless if Russians are desiderous to reconstruct it and if they have enough funds it could be possible to create a museum of fine arts (decorative arts )like Musée Caranavalet in Paris http://www.paris.fr/portail/Culture/Portal.lut?page_id=6468
In this museum ,rooms of ancient palaces were recreated,doing in such way in Russia could be a compromise (no destrucion in the palace)but I'm doubtfull Russians would be interested to proceed in that way...

Offline Arleen

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Re: St. Petersburg imperial country residences news
« Reply #177 on: April 26, 2007, 12:16:11 PM »
Vassilli, you may be very young but are also very wise.  I like your thinking about why they should restore the Alexander Palace.  I agree with you and not Tsarfan.

A

Offline Tsarfan

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Re: St. Petersburg imperial country residences news
« Reply #178 on: April 26, 2007, 03:38:31 PM »
Livadia,was probably much more a creation of their own than the Alexander palace,however according to the time they passe there (constructed in 1911)and according to the fact that Tsarskoye Selo was the heart of the power until revolution ,Alexander palace is probably the best place to embody their life style...

I think this discussion opens up a very fundamental question, Vassili, about what it is that Russia should try to preserve from her imperial past.  The question is whether the set of palaces that the government chooses to restore and maintain should be a general canvas of the evolution of imperial architecture, art, and life over a couple of centures or whether it should memorialize particular individuals . . . or be a mixture of the two.

When Pavlovsk was restored, it was not restored to the state in which it existed at the time either of the revolution or its destruction during World War II . . . or to the state in which Maria Feodorovna, its primary patron and most ardent lover, last knew it.  It was restored to the state conceived by its designers before the 1803 fire.  The Winter Palace has largely been converted into a memorial to the history of imperial art collecting instead of being preserved as the home of Elizabeth, Catherine II, or Nicholas I, who had the biggest impacts on the complex.  The Catherine Palace had ceased to be viewed as an imperial residence well before the revolution, and it is being restored largely to its pre-war state rather than being made a specific memorial to its builder or to its most significant resident, Catherine II.

With the exception of a few places associated with Peter the Great, almost no restoration in Russia is being done with an eye to creating a memorial to specific rulers.  What palace has been deliberately returned to a specific condition because  Catherine the Great, Alexander I, or Alexander II knew it in that state?

So, to me, the question is what makes Nicholas and Alexandra the special case for turning a palace into a personal memorial?  Their contributions to Russia were largely negative compared to the above four rulers.  Their contributions to Russian art and architecture were largely debasing (except that I do rather like Livadia and the Maple Room).  In so many ways, they represented not the pinnacle of imperial Russia, but its nadir.

You won't believe this after all my posts on this topic . . . but I actually don't care that much what they do with the eastern wing of the Alexander Palace.  What really fascinates me about this discussion is what it says about why we all focus so much on the last reign of the Romanovs.  I still cannot shake the feeling that this desire to make the palace a memorial is more about the desire to make of Nicholas and Alexandra more in death than they were in life.  And I still cannot shake the feeling that this is more about a deep emotional need to imagine that the revolution was just a bad collective dream and that the Romanovs rule on.  And please don't be offended.  I share that desire myself and come to this site to fight it on some days and to succumb to it on others.

Offline Arleen

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Re: St. Petersburg imperial country residences news
« Reply #179 on: April 27, 2007, 02:40:45 PM »
No, its just because Nicholas and Alexandra were the LAST!

Arleen