Lyons Hall in the Catherine Palace opens after restoration

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The Lyons Hall as it looked in the 19th century. Artist: Luigi Premazzi. 1878

Restored to its former splendour, the Lyons Hall now fully completes the Catherine Palace’s Suite of State Rooms, a.k.a. the Golden Enfilade whose revival took 74 years after the end of the Great Patriotic War in 1945, and is now finished with the recent restoration of the Palace Chapel on the northern end and the opening of the Lyons Hall on the southern end of the Enfilade.

A breakthrough in the Lyons Hall Reconstruction Project became possible thanks to financial support from Gazprom and the ENGIE Foundation (France). The opening ceremony took place on 5 June 2019 and was led by Olga Golodets, Deputy Prime Minister of Russia; Olga Taratynova, Director of Tsarskoe Selo; Elena Burmistrova, Deputy CEO of Gazprom; Sylvie Bermann, French Ambassador to the Russian Federation; Jean-Pierre Clamadieu, Chairman of ENGIE; and Gérard Mestrallet, Chairman of Honour of ENGIE and former Chairman of the ENGIE Foundation.

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Sample of the silk lining recreated by the Lyons-based Lamy et Giraud weaving factory

The opulent Lyons Hall derived its name from the silk lining by the Lyons-based Lamy et Giraud weaving factory, now the Prelle Manufactory. A combination of golden silk and lapis lazuli in its interior design produced an aura of remarkable sophistication.  The lining underwent numerous changes after the time of Catherine the Great. In the mid-19th century, the Lyons Hall became a gala reception room and the golden fabric was replaced by crimson silk with floral garlands. In 1866, the walls were reclad in yellow silk of a hue called Golden Bud. That version of the interior is immortalized in Luigi Premazzi’s watercolour of 1878 (see photo at top of this page).

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The Lyons Hall after the Great Patriotic War. 1945

The Hall was destroyed during the war but some of its furnishings were saved by evacuation, including twenty five pieces of unique lapis-lazuli furniture and silk samples. Also saved were the palace’s inventory records, archival documents and photographs. The parquet floor was looted but later found in Berlin and returned to Tsarskoe Selo in 1947.

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© Государственный музей-заповедник Царское Cело

The Lyons Hall Reconstruction Project was drawn up in 1983. However, it was not until 2005 that the first step was made by bringing the room back to its original dimensions. Work was carried out on a step-by-step basis because re-creating an entire room is extremely costly and time-consuming. Three lapis lazuli portals framing the Hall’s doorways were restored thanks to the backing of our art patrons, the TransSoyuz Charitable Foundation.

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© Государственный музей-заповедник Царское Cело

A new stage in the project was launched in 2018 when Tsarskoe Selo, Gazprom and the ENGIE Foundation signed Lyons Hall Reconstruction Agreement. With funds from the ENGIE Foundation, 320 metres of the Golden Bud silk (Lampas bouton d’or Louis XVI) for the walls, furniture and curtains were remade at the Prelle Manufactory by French masters, whose predecessors were commissioned by the Russian imperial court in the 1860s. Gazprom financed the recreation of the ornate plafond and lapis lazuli mosaic panels (by the Tsarskoe Selo Amber Workshop), as well as the making of draped curtains and the covering of walls with the French silk (by St Petersburg’s Alpina company).

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© Государственный музей-заповедник Царское Cело

© Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve. 7 June 2019