Gifts for the Restoration of the Alexander Palace

PHOTO: the purple Wilton carpet in the recreated Pallisander (Rosewood) Drawing Room

As the next stage of the restoration of the Alexander Palace comes to an end, it is important to recognize the generosity of individuals and businesses who have made gifts for the interiors of the former apartments of Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna.

These gifts will be showcased in the recreated interiors of the Pallisander (Rosewood) Drawing Room and the Mauve (Lilac) Boudoir of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, as well as the New Study of Emperor Nicholas II.

The making of carpets, drapes, cushions was a laborious and complex process associated which involved the careful study of historical samples preserved in the museum’s collection, which became analogs for the decoration of the historic interiors of the Alexander Palace.

PHOTO: preserved carpet sample from Pallisander (Rosewood) Drawing Room

Larry Hokanson, a carpet designer in the United States, became the first donor who expressed a desire to participate in the recreation of the interior decoration of the Alexander Palace. Mr. Hokanson undertook to recreate the Wilton carpet for the Pallisander (Rosewood) Drawing Room, which was lost during the Great Patriotic War (1941-45), based on the historical sample preserved in the museum’s collection. This carpet, with a simple but delicate floral design over a purple background, featured a distinctive weave typical of vintage English handmade wool carpets. The Hokanson factory was able to replicate this sophisticated weaving technique, colour and pattern exactly. The magnificent replicated carpet was gifted to the museum in 2013, the year marking the 300th anniversary of St. Petersburg.

Up until now, this valuable gift has been kept in the museum’s funds, the purple Wilton carpet has now been laid in the recreated Pallisander (Rosewood) Drawing Room.

PHOTO: curtains recreated for the New Study of Nicholas II

In 2011, fabrics for the production of curtains for the New Study of Nicholas II were donated to the Alexander Palace, by the Swiss company Fabric Frontlain with the financial support of Tissura. Fabric with hyacinths were recreated from an historical sample preserved in the Tsarskoye Selo Collection.

In 2020, Janusz Anzhey Szymaniak, General Director of the Renaissance Workshops for the Restoration of Antique Monuments, donated sets of pillows and cushions for sofas in the Mauve (Lilac) Boudoir, made at the St. Petersburg enterprise Le Lux. The fabric for these items was recreated according to the historical model preserved at the Italian factory Rubelli, and the intricately woven silk tassels at the Polish company Re Kon Art.

PHOTO: cushions and pillows recreated for the Mauve (Lilac) Drawing Room

In the outgoing year, work on the interior decoration of the Moorish Bathroom of Nicholas II continued in the Alexander Palace. Acquiring a reed mat for wall decoration turned out to be a difficult task. This special mat of traditional Japanese weaving not only decorated the walls of the interior, but also protected them from damage. The museum asked Tsutsui Akiyuki, Vice Consul of the Japanese Consulate General in St. Petersburg for cultural affairs, for help. Mr. Tsutsui was of great assistance in resolving the issue of acquiring a reed mat and is now in charge of the issue of its delivery from Japan to the Alexander Palace. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the mat can not be delivered within the originally planned timeframe.

NOTE: all photos © Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Reserve

© Paul Gilbert. 23 December 2020

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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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Dear Reader: If you enjoy my updates on the restoration of the Alexander Palace, then please help support my research by making a donation in US or Canadian dollars – donations can be made by GoFundMe, PayPal, credit card, personal check or money order. Click HERE to make a donation – the net proceeds help fund my work, including research, translations, etc. Thank you for your consideration – PG

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