Two halls of the Oranjebaum’s Chinese Palace were opened today after renovations: the pink hall and cloakroom. The designs and art have been restored, furniture will appear there next year.
Restoration workers had a difficult mission. They had to work with windows shut – not to harm unique interiors. Kseniya Eremenko found out where dames of the 18th century powdered their wigs.
Before, only parade halls were solemnly opened inside the Chinese palace, today they most closed doors were unlocked. Almost two years of hard work - and the pink hall got its historic look back. The Palace dames of Catherine the Great used to admire this ceiling. And people still, literally, bow down before the tiled floor, designed by architect Rinaldi.
Tatyana Syasina, head of park complex’s sector “Sobstvennaya Dacha”: “You can see certain fragments, which were replaced – those are of a different color. More than 20 types of overseas wood were brought in upon the order. Marquetry – the art of getting the picture out of tiny fragments, the sophisticated details. Its very difficult”
The ceiling was also restored by bits. Authentic artificial marble was concealed under tow layers of paint. And “Diana and Aurora” by Venetian artist Ditsiane can finally boast their aristocratic skin color.
Kseniya Eremenko, reporter: “A curious eye of a visitor can notice certain shortcomings, which look like patches. But those are necessary. Restoration workers call these “clearanes”. They show how precise the restoration work has been. You can compare – one part is from the 18th century, the other one is from the 21st. Only time has worked on the differences”
To nullify any differences, the cloakroom was given its original blue color. The walls have experienced dozens of changes, but the northern part miraculously stayed intact. In these quarters – according to 18th century documents – dames smartened up and powdered their wigs. The then-fashionable ornament called “Chinuazri” – translated as “Chinese stuff”, and gold-plated wooden carvings played witness to those proceedings.
Pavel Kukharev, restoration worker: “Some elements were cut out according to our own stylistics, some are mirrored: a flower here, a flower there. You look at the analog and do the element which was lost. Everything was cleared by means of a scalpel”
Restoration workers had to work with shut windows not to harm fragile interiors. Its mystical – the more authentic the rooms looked, the more tangible its owner’s presence became.
Architect Rinaldi put a difficult task to his successors. Having built the palace here, he condemned its interiors to death from dampness. The rooms now have been equipped with monitors – so that the work of those who restored them would not follow the steps of the long-lost interiors. Now a computer decides whether the air must be dried or dampened.
Elena Kalnitskaya, CEO of State Museum “Peterhof”: “In the winter, this palace gets heated to 4,5 degrees, it is not affected by temperature drops. Now it will live on, it will be preserved for a long time. We walk here and see – the air is different, it is damp there”
The Palace has a total of 17 rooms. The restoration will be completed within several years. The task is an ambitious one, but it has been on schedule so far. They joke that they are being helped by Catherine the Great herself.