Angels Return to the Catherine Palace Chapel

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Original 18th century angels discovered in the Catherine Palace Chapel
Photos © Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve

This article has been edited from its original by Paul Gilbert, Founder of Royal Russia © 2018

The ongoing restoration of the Catherine Palace Chapel (Church of the Resurrection) is full of some interesting finds and discoveries.

A few months ago the restorers uncovered 182 fragments of carved gilt décor carefully hidden in the altar section of the chapel. It is believed that this was probably done by museum workers during the Soviet years, in hopes that the 18th century architectural masterpiece would be revived someday.

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Angel figures fitting with details of Altar Canopy in the Catherine Palace Chapel
Photos © Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve

Painstaking work was carried out to identify the fragments and find out their original places in the church interior. One wing of the Tsar’s Gate was assembled from 54 of the fragments.

The hidden treasure also contained some joyful gems: two angel figures from the altar canopy, with their hands and feet detached and preserved. These crippled victims of World War II have been waiting to see the light for decades. Restorers note that the angel figures fit perfectly into the surviving details on the canopy, allowing the restorers from the Tsarskoye Selo Amber Workshop a wonderful opportunity to restore what was destroyed during the war.

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A sample of the 182 fragments of carved gilt décor found hidden in the Altar
Photos © Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve

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The Palace Chapel was looted during the Nazi occupation of Tsarskoye Selo in the 1940s. Its frescoes and icons were almost completely lost and its gilt carvings scattered throughout the park.

The interior underwent conservation during the Soviet period. Back then the primary task was to restore the Golden Enfilade of the palace. Alexander Kedrinsky, the museum’s head architect was dreaming of the day when he could begin to revive the Chapel. He initiated the restoration project, but full-scale works did not begin until 2015 with financial assistance by Gazprom.

Click HERE (13 September 2017) and HERE (5 June 2015) to read more about the history and restoration of the Catherine Palace Church, and HERE (5 September 2017)to watch a video (in Russian). 

© Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve / Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 12 April, 2018