PHOTO: Chandelier for Empress Alexandra Feodorovna’s Corner Reception Room
The restoration of two chandeliers and three lanterns for the Alexander Palace has been completed. They will decorate Empress Alexandra Feodorovna’s Corner Reception Room, as well as the Small and Large Libraries.
PHOTO: Colour autochrome of the Corner Reception Room, taken in 1917
In the Corner Reception Room, visitors will see a 30 candle chandelier made of ruby-coloured glass, which had been preserved from the historical collection of the Alexander Palace, but kept in Pavlovsk. Originally, two identical chandeliers were located in the Concert Hall (demolished), a spacious two-story room designed by Giacomo Quarenghi (1744-1817) in the east wing of the palace. At the beginning of the 20th century, during the reconstruction of the hall, one of the chandeliers was moved to the Empress’s Corner Reception Room. The second chandelier was used to decorate the Mirror Study, which was part of the private apartments of Empress Catherine II, located in the Zubov Wing of the nearby Catherine Palace. After the completion of the restoration of the Alexander Palace, this elegant chandelier will be returned to take its original place. The deep ruby red colour of the glass elements of the chandelier perfectly match the soft pink tint of the imitation marble walls of the Corner Reception Room.
PHOTO: restored lighting fixtures for the Small and Large Libraries
For the Small Library, an eight candle chandelier has also been restored. It is decorated with glass vases-balusters, decorating the central rod, pyramids of cut crystal and a crowning cobalt vase with a fountain made of almond-shaped pendants.
An earlier type of pendant lamps, which were used in palace interiors, were lanterns, consisting of a conical body of glass in a mount of gilded bronze and a crystal set in the form of garlands with pendants. The candlestick was placed inside the flask; such lanterns reliably protected the oscillating flame from constant drafts.
PHOTO: Colour autochrome of the Large Library, taken in 1917
From 1796 to 1941, the Large Library (originally the Dining Room) was lit by three large lanterns with six candles each (now used in the lobby of the Pavlovsk Palace). The Large Library of the Alexander Palace will be lit by three 18th century lanterns, one of which comes from the historical collection, the other two purchased.
During the restoration process, the craftsmen removed dirt from the lighting fixtures, carried out the restoration of the crystal pendant, recreated the lost parts from glass and bronze with subsequent galvanic gilding, and installed new electrical wiring.
The restorers also managed to almost completely recreate one of the lanterns using the existing analogue, adding an 18th century glass flask. The original piece is the only thing that has survived from a hanging or table lamp. For many years, the flask was kept in the museum’s funds, it was intended to be used for such a restoration.
The restoration work which lasted four months was carried out by the Yuzhakova Studio (St. Petersburg) with the participation of masters Alexei Gvozdev, Vyacheslav Gizimchuk and Dmitry Rosenthal.
NOTE: all photos © Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Reserve
Fifteen interiors situated in the eastern wing of the palace, are now scheduled to open to visitors in 2021. Among the recreated interiors are the New Study of Nicholas II, Moorish Bathroom of Nicholas II, Working Study of Nicholas II, Reception Room of Nicholas II, Pallisander (Rosewood) Living Room, Mauve (Lilac) Boudoir, Alexandra’s Corner Reception Room, the Imperial Bedroom, among others.
In the future, the Alexander Palace will become a memorial museum of the Romanov family – from Catherine the Great to Nicholas II, showcasing the private, domestic life of the Russian monarchs who used the palace as an official residence. The eastern wing of the palace will be known as the Museum of the Russian Imperial Family. The multi-museum complex, which includes the Western wing is scheduled for completion no earlier than 2024.
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© Paul Gilbert. 16 November 2020