Author Topic: Palace rooms before Alexandra's redecoration?  (Read 17410 times)

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Offline BobAtchison

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Re: Palace rooms before Alexandra's redecoration?
« Reply #15 on: April 22, 2006, 11:19:57 AM »
The Maple Room is a huge project and the most difficult of all of the private rooms to be restored.  It would be really difficult to get it right, the aesthetic sensibilities of the era are foriegn to us today.  The combination of plush pile carpet, the fabrics, the soft glow of the gray-stained maple - it all fit together.  Then we must recognize that the finest wood carvers and plaster workers of the day created all the carvings. The sensitivity of the style of that work would be hard, but not impossible to recreate.  In an Imperial room it's how it all fits together - the most skilled artisans and the luxurious materials.

Today it would be hard to find the right 'style Tsar' to oversee these aspects of a restoration.  A top-notch interior designer like Timothy Corrigan olr David Easton would be the right sort of person required.

Jay

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Re: Palace rooms before Alexandra's redecoration?
« Reply #16 on: April 22, 2006, 01:58:04 PM »
Quote
The Maple Room is a huge project and the most difficult of all of the private rooms to be restored.  It would be really difficult to get it right, the aesthetic sensibilities of the era are foriegn to us today.  The combination of plush pile carpet, the fabrics, the soft glow of the gray-stained maple - it all fit together.  Then we must recognize that the finest wood carvers and plaster workers of the day created all the carvings. The sensitivity of the style of that work would be hard, but not impossible to recreate.  In an Imperial room it's how it all fits together - the most skilled artisans and the luxurious materials.

Today it would be hard to find the right 'style Tsar' to oversee these aspects of a restoration.  A top-notch interior designer like Timothy Corrigan olr David Easton would be the right sort of person required.


Thanks for the update. I didn't know that the damage was that extensive. I do know that it'd be difficult to restore that room to it's former beauty. The Nazis I recollect were pretty thorough in destroying certain portions of the room. I also read somewhere that it is one of the most damaged room in the palace. I may be wrong but, I'm only going by what I've read. However, I do know that you've been there to the palace and have a first hand knowledge of how it looks and I believe what I've just read. I'm happy to hear that the process isn't impossible. I sincerely hope that one day it'll be restored.

Offline BobAtchison

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Re: Palace rooms before Alexandra's redecoration?
« Reply #17 on: April 22, 2006, 10:38:46 PM »
Jay the Maple room wasn't destroyed by the Nazis - it was beat up and they burned a lot of the wood the plaster decoartion was all there, it wasn't all burn out by any means I have pictures.  It would have relatively simple to restore it.  It was the Soviet Government that destroyed the Maple Room.

Jay

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Re: Palace rooms before Alexandra's redecoration?
« Reply #18 on: April 23, 2006, 06:56:08 AM »
Ooops!!  I apologize. I stand corrected. I should've used the term damaged instead. Thank you for catching that and setting things straight. I've seen a few pics of the Maple Room after the war and agree.  Thank you Bob.

I'd also like to mention that the new features and designs for the APTM site are magnificent. This site is what keeps me coming back. I haven't seen any other like it pertaining to the palace. Let me say that I appreciate everything that has been done to make it what it is. Thank you and to those who contribute.

Upon viewing the past posts in this thread, I was wondering if anyone might have anymore photos of the Maple Room? I ask only because I've seen watercolors posted in this thread and not the Maple Room thread.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Jay »

Offline Ortino

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Re: Palace rooms before Alexandra's redecoration?
« Reply #19 on: April 23, 2006, 07:59:18 AM »
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Jay the Maple room wasn't destroyed by the Nazis - it was beat up and they burned a lot of the wood the plaster decoartion was all there, it wasn't all burn out by any means I have pictures.  It would have relatively simple to restore it.  It was the Soviet Government that destroyed the Maple Room.

Why did they destroy it? To make office space? Because it was too good an example of Tsarist Russia? Putting aside the wood and Art Nouveau designs, what about the fabrics? Kuchumov had swatches of material from the palace, so could these be matched or recreated?

Jay

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Re: Palace rooms before Alexandra's redecoration?
« Reply #20 on: April 23, 2006, 08:08:39 AM »
Those are questions I'd like to know the answer to myself. Maybe a lot of damage was due to people looking for valuables. I don't have any answers. Can anyone shed some light?
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Jay »

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Re: Palace rooms before Alexandra's redecoration?
« Reply #21 on: April 23, 2006, 09:08:34 AM »
As for the fabrics, yes, Kuchomov saved swatches of everything and they can be reproduced, for an astronomical price.  Several of the French firms that made the original fabrics still exist. I personally have spoken to one in Paris that made the silk "Lampas Violette" which covered the furniture and upholstered the walls of the Mauve Room (there was no wallpaper in the Mauve Room) to get an approximate idea of cost for the World Monuments Fund, when Bob was working as the Historical consultant for them, and five years ago, the cost quoted was about $1,000 a meter! but it would be identical to the original...


Jay

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Re: Palace rooms before Alexandra's redecoration?
« Reply #22 on: April 23, 2006, 10:12:23 AM »
 :o :) Thank you FA!!! That certainly answered a few questions. I still am intrigued why the Soviets let the "damage" continue. Hmm.....  Lack of funds seems to be a reasonable explanation as well. But the revenue that could've been raised.... The Soviets did all that they could to keep the peoples memory of the Romanovs bitter. The Navy needed space and Stalin being the shrewd person he was, gave the building to the Navy. The palace was the home of the last Tsar and it was only logical in Soviet thinking; which is probably why restoration was kept to a minimum. Hope it helped.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Jay »

Offline Ortino

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Re: Palace rooms before Alexandra's redecoration?
« Reply #23 on: April 23, 2006, 10:17:53 AM »
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As for the fabrics, yes, Kuchomov saved swatches of everything and they can be reproduced, for an astronomical price.  Several of the French firms that made the original fabrics still exist. I personally have spoken to one in Paris that made the silk "Lampas Violette" which covered the furniture and upholstered the walls of the Mauve Room (there was no wallpaper in the Mauve Room) to get an approximate idea of cost for the World Monuments Fund, when Bob was working as the Historical consultant for them, and five years ago, the cost quoted was about $1,000 a meter! but it would be identical to the original...


  Thank you FA. That is an astounding price for fabric, but undoubtedly it would be very beautiful. Did the palace not keep extra roles of fabric in case of repairs? And if they do still exist, could these possibly be used?

Offline BobAtchison

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Re: Palace rooms before Alexandra's redecoration?
« Reply #24 on: April 23, 2006, 11:00:34 AM »
After the war they started to restore all of the personal rooms.  They did a lot of work in the New Study and the Tsar's Reception room which you can see today.  This was work done in the first five -six years after the war ended.  It wasn't done as well as it could have been, they didn't use the right woods in somne places, but it was extensive.  It's not true that the Working Study or the Mauve Room were destroyed.  I have pictures that prove that.  I think all of the personal rooms were a mess but preserved and relatively easy to restore.  The problem was Stalin and the Leningrad Soviet Government decided they did not need a "Romanov" museum anymore and it was a convenient opportunity to further obliterate their memory.  So they destroyed the rooms. Destroyed them.  It was a horriible act of cultural barbarism.  Why the New Study and the Tsar's Reception Room were saved I don't know.  They could have run out of time before they got to them.  Maybe a Soviet official liked the ceiling of the New Study and decided to preserve that room.

Jay

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Re: Palace rooms before Alexandra's redecoration?
« Reply #25 on: April 23, 2006, 11:08:04 AM »
Thankyou for that info Bob. I was modifying my response when you replied. Sorry if our posts have a few simularities. Your knowledge on the matter is greatly appreciated. I even learned a little more about my favorite room as well. You sure can explain it better than me. It was a big help.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Jay »

Offline BobAtchison

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Re: Palace rooms before Alexandra's redecoration?
« Reply #26 on: April 23, 2006, 11:32:29 AM »
Yes, they always bought more than they needed for lateer repairs and replacedments.  There werbolts of this stuff preserved befoire the war.  Some of it still exists.

Fabric and curtains can be terrifically expensive.  I know a single huge window's drapes could cost $20,000 today.  They didn' skimp on how much material was used and they were all lined with expensive silks and the trims were works of art in and of themselves.  Today fabric like the thick Lampas used in the Mauve Room could cost $200 - $600 a yard retail.

Kuchumov gave me a sample of fabric from the Mauve Room.  It was not the French material used on the walls, but a lighter Russian material used for the upholstry.  The color is really unique.  There is no way that any painted surface could convey the the soft glistening quality of the raised weave.  The reflective quality completely changes the tone.  I know it's been over-used by 'opal-toned" is a good choice.

Photographs of the Mauve Room can never convey its real appearance, the ivory-colored lemonwood furniture and wainscotting was painted layer after layer which was rubbed down before the next layer was applied in enamel. Then the woodwork and furniture was softly waxed and polished so it had the sheen of real ivory.  This care was true of everything made for the palace.  Luxury, plush, fine craftsmanship, the best materials - these were that describe the Imperial rooms and their decoration.

And this is the challenge - will they recreate the rooms to that level?  And this is why the rooms with their cheap movie props and inappropriate junk look so repulsive today.  Howvever, it's all they have to work with.

Let us hope that Pavlovsk and the Hermitage release all of their Alexander Palace treasures.  Why this has not happened already I don't know. I see somethings have some over, but not much.

Offline Ortino

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Re: Palace rooms before Alexandra's redecoration?
« Reply #27 on: April 23, 2006, 03:27:59 PM »
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And this is the challenge - will they recreate the rooms to that level?  And this is why the rooms with their cheap movie props and inappropriate junk look so repulsive today.  Howvever, it's all they have to work with.
 
Let us hope that Pavlovsk and the Hermitage release all of their Alexander Palace treasures.  Why this has not happened already I don't know. I see somethings have some over, but not much.

  Although I would love to see all the rooms restored to their original state, if the amount of money and time needed to recreate the rooms is as you described, then perhaps it is not in the palace's best interest to restore them that fully. It would also take years to complete. Or perhaps only do the most important rooms, maybe the Mauve Room, Maple Room, Bedroom, and Pallisander Room. Out of all of them, I would like to see the Mauve Room restored. It played an enormous role in their lives after all.

  I somehow don't think the other museums will release them without a fight. They've been there for so long that they've become part of the collections and I doubt that the museums would hand them over willingly. I think that some things from those places may come back, but I can't imagine all of it returning.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Ortino »

Offline Joanna

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Re: Palace rooms before Alexandra's redecoration?
« Reply #28 on: July 13, 2014, 06:28:38 PM »
Fascinating description of the rooms of GD Marie A. & Duke of Edinburgh by a reporter:

The Times, Friday January 23, 1874

Alexander Palace - Drawing room is fitted with blue upholstery, and papered with gold and gray: In one corner is a mass of growing plants, and on the table a vase of lilies of the valley in full bloom. There is a piano, for her Imperial Highness delights in music. Beyond a second small drawing - room, in crimson and satin is the bedroom, furnished in a greenish gray and rose colour. This room has a tall cheval glass framed in gray ivory, a toilette table with a mirror embowered in lace and a low bed shut within a recess by heavy curtains. Beyond is a small boudoir and a bath-room. Across a corridor are the Duke of Edinburgh's rooms. The dressing-room is in dark green, with a dressing-table in an alcove closed by curtains. From one side a door leads to a bathroom, and from the other you enter the writing - room, with, its brown carpet and walls, large writing table, and carved divan. All the furniture in the rooms has been made m St. Petersburg. The pictures in the rooms hare been brought from the Winter Palace. The Duke's writing-room is strewn with English books, mostly large illustrated works such as Dante, and Tennyson. A gentleman, whom I understood to be the Zarskoe Selo librarian, made a great deal of a work which he said was translated from the Persian by Prince Albert expressly for the Queen and which, by a singularly happy thought, had been now placed on the Duke's table. However, - he could not find it, or I might tell you more about it. All along one side of the writing- room runs a deep and low divan covered with a Persian carpet, and then a chandelier of very good design. The next apartment is the dining room, done in drab and brown. The bride and bridegroom are expected at Zarskoe Selo at' 11 o clock, and their short honeymoon of three days is considered in St. Petersburg a curious foreign custom. - The suite will consist of five persons, among whom will be Lady Emma Osborne and Lieutenant Haig.

Joanna