The 18th-century Golden Gates to the Catherine Palace have been unveiled after eight-month restoration.
The central gates of the palace courtyard were designed by Savva Ivanovich Chevakinsky (1713-1780) and Bartolomeo Francesco Rastrelli (1700-1771) and constructed between 1748-56. Severely damaged in World War Two and rebuilt in the 1960s, the gates have undergone their first major restoration in more than 50 years.
The restoration was organized by the Russian Ministry of Culture’s North West Administration for Construction, Reconstruction and Restoration under the federal target program Culture of Russia (2012–2018) and completed by the Slaviansky Project Group.
The restorers had to deal with 3,500 decorative elements and over 12,000 rivets on the wrought-iron openwork with gilded embellishments. The attachable details had to be removed, numbered and cleaned. After removing old gilt with a special tool, some of the 18th-century elements were found preserved. As well as later ones from the 1960s, those elements were straightened and their missing parts remade. Elements that did not survive were recreated by art blacksmiths.
The most difficult was the process of coating the embellishments with the thinnest (0.1 micron) sheets of gold leaf using 19th-century technology and a special varnish Mordan. The overall gilding required more than 300 sixty-sheet gold leaf books containing 4 grams of gold each. The double-headed eagle on the gates was the largest element which required 6 gold leaf books.
Also restored were the gates’ brickwork, fence basements, stucco work decorations and natural stone details.
© Tsarskoye Selo State Museum. 17 April 2019