1840: Reconstruction of the state halls of the Winter Palace after the fire of 1837 by Vasily Stasov
The fire of 1837 almost completely destroyed the interior decoration of the Winter Palace, but no time was lost in setting in place a restoration program. Nicholas I was determined that no delays would prevent the rapid completion of the restoration and indeed, only fifteen months later in the spring of 1839, the royal family moved back into the palace.
Refurbishment of the state interiors was undertaken by the architect Vasily Stasov, while the private rooms were entrusted to Alexander Bryullov. Stasov guaranteed to return the destroyed rooms and staircases to 'their former appearance', although in fact many changes were introduced in accordance with Stasov's devotion to the canons of Neoclassicism. Nicholas I demanded that the splendid Baroque architecture of the state staircase and the Large and Small Churches be 'restored exactly as it was' and these are the areas which today give us the best idea of what the palace looked like in the 18th century. Stasov reproduced Montferrand's design for the Fieldmarshals' Hall and Memorial Room of Peter I and the Military Gallery of 1812 was also carefully restored to its original appearance, the portraits having all been quickly removed from the burning Palace. The Armorial Hall, however, the second largest room in the Winter Palace, became much more imposing and overawing thanks to the introduction of gilded columns. While restoring the St George Hall (the Large Throne Room), although Vasily Stasov largely reproduced Giacomo Quarenghi's design he used Carrara marble instead of the original coloured marbles of Russian origin, replacing the painted ceiling with another showing large caissons embellished with gilt bronze decoration. The effect was very different to the original and very much in keeping with Late Neoclassicism. The Nevsky suite of rooms, running along the Neva from the Main Staircase to the Malachite Room, including the Antechamber and Concert Hall, was designed by Vasily Stasov
The Armorial Hall
The St Nicholas and Concert Halls