Restoration of Emperor Peter III’s Palace at Oranienbaum

On 17th April, a press tour was held in the Oranienbaum Palace and Park complex, timed to coincide with the International Day of Monuments and Historic Sites, in which representatives of the media visited Emperor Peter III’s Palace, where an extensive restoration of the buildings’ interiors is underway.

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General Director of the Peterhof State Museum Preserve Elena Kalnitskaya

The participants of the press tour were welcomed by the General Director of the Peterhof State Museum Preserve Elena Kalnitskaya, who noted that the results of the restoration will be presented during the jubilee year marking the 100th anniversary of the nationalization of the former Imperial residences. A solemn meeting of the Union of Museums of Russia will take place in the Hermitage Theater on 18th May, and will be marked by a volley from the bastion of the Peter and Paul Fortress.

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The restoration of the Picture Hall in Peter III’s Palace at Oranienbaum

The grand opening of Peter III’s palace at Oranienbaum will take place on 24th May, after a two-year restoration. The Palace of Peter III is the only stone structure, preserved from his “Peterstadt Fortress”. According to Kalnitskaya, “Peterstadt” was an amazing ensemble to which “a great child and a great romantic, Peter III built his civilization, his universe.

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The restoration of the Picture Hall in Peter III’s Palace at Oranienbaum

The restoration of the palace of Peter III began in March 2016. During that time, several surprising finds were made in the palace, referring to the early history of the building. In the study on the second floor, during the dismantling of the decorative damask on the slope of one of the windows, the restorers stumbled upon a fragment of a painting by German artist Hans Wilhelm Schmidt. The fragment from the 1880s, was from the reconstruction of the palace from the former hunting lodge of the Dukes of Mecklenburg-Strelitzky. A curious feature of this fragment: restorers suggest that it retained the gaps from the fragments of the projectile that fell into the adjacent interior during the Great Patriotic War. According to the chief architect of the Peterhof State Museum Preserve S.A. Pavlov, the restoration council decided to preserve this panel in the form in which it was found – similar to that of a “trace of the war.

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The restoration of the Picture Hall in Peter III’s Palace at Oranienbaum

The return of authentic paintings to the interiors of the palace is a characteristic feature of this restoration project. After the most complicated procedures for conservation and restoration, the painted panels of Hans Schmidt, made especially for the palace in Weimar in the 1880s, were moved to the Cabinet and Bedroom of the Palace. For more than 60 years, these original elements of the 19th century decoration were kept in the museum’s storerooms and were unknown to visitors and to most specialists.

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The restoration of the Picture Hall in Peter III’s Palace at Oranienbaum

The main find was made by restorers in the Picture Hall: after dismantling the lamp and clearing, a medallion on the ceiling was discovered with a picturesque plafond, pasted, obviously, during the post-war restoration. Proceeding from the style of painting and the plot, the scientists of the Peterhof State Museum attribute the authorship of the plafond to the Weimar artist G.V. Schmidt. To date, a few dozen paintings of historical trellis hanging have been returned to the Picture Hall. As S.A. Pavlov notes, “trellis hanging pictures was removed from the palace in the 18th century and recreated only in the 1960s. On the day of the press tour, in front of journalists, the painting “An Old Man with a Book” by an unknown artist, based on the original by D. Tiepolo, took its place on the wall of the Picture Hall. 

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 27 April 2018