18th Century Icons Recreated for Palace Church at Oranienbaum

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This article was researched from Russian media sources and written by Paul Gilbert, Founder of Royal Russia © 2018

Sixteen 18th-century icons have been recreated by specialists for the restored court church of the Great Menshikov Palace in Oranienbaum.

“We hope to complete the restoration of the interiors of the church this summer” – said Elena Kalnitskaya, Director of the Peterhof State Museum Reserve, – “we are planning a super-modern multimedia exhibition about the history of the church, and divine liturgy will be held here annually,” she added.

Marina Pavlova, a leading expert on the study of objects of cultural heritage of the Architectural Department of the museum-reserve, noted that photos of the church interior from the 1930s, as well as specially selected historical analogs were used for recreating the wall paintings, which included works of West European engraving and Russian icons of the mid-18th century.

The recreation of these icons is a continuation of the restoration of the palace church, which began several years ago. In 2015, thirteen icons were recreated for the iconostasis. The recent addition of 16 more icons were returned to their historical places in the second and third tiers.

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Unlike most of the 18th century Orthodox churches in St. Petersburg, where the pictorial and iconic decoration was concentrated mainly in monumental iconostases, in the Oranienbaum church pavilion the wall and altar images were combined into a harmonious aesthetic and semantic whole.

The restorers are now planning to recreate the lost picturesque decoration of the upper tiers of the church, which include eight icons of the apostles with scenes of martyrdom and seven images of the Passion of Christ.

Situated in the western tower pavilion of the Great Menshikov Palace, the Oranienbaum court church was consecrated on 3rd September 1727. The last major reconstruction of the interior of the temple was conducted in 1897-1898.

In the 1930s, the Great Menshikov Palace was transferred to the Hydrographic Department of the Baltic Fleet, and the church itself was converted into workshops, its interior decoration was almost completely lost. Today, the interior of the church is slowly returning to its historical appearance of the late 19th century.

Click HERE to watch a press tour of the church on 14th February 2018. Click HERE to read more about the restoration of the court church of the Great Menshikov Palace in Oranienbaum.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 27 February 2018