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The Dressing Room

The Dressing Room is the third in the northern suite. It was originally decorated in the 1750s to a design by Bartolomco Francesco Rastrelli and had some alterations made to it by Stakenschneider a century later. Its walls are hung with silk made in Moscow, at the Sapozhnikov Silk Factory, in the 1890s, after an eighteenth-century French model. Foliate scrolls and volutes, their blue changing from bright blue in the lighted areas to a deep blue, almost black, in the shadows, with golden thread accentuating their sinuous outlines and curved stems, form a rhythmically arranged pattern on a silvery background. Bouquets of roses, lilacs, and daisies, executed in their natural colours, are enclosed in the cartouches, or scattered among the foliage. With its superb design and colouring, the upholstery gives a majestic quality to the whole interior.

Two portraits of the Empress Elizabeth, daughter of Peter the Great, complete the decor of the room. The equestrian one was painted from nature by Georg Christophor Grooth in Russia, in the 1740s, and the other picture was executed by Carle van Loo, who worked from a portrait in 1760 in France.

At about the same time Louis XV of France sent to Elizabeth, as a diplomatic gift, a toilet mirror in a silver frame, the work of Francois Thomas Germain, sculptor and goldsmith to the French court. Germain topped the frame with the arms of Russia in a cartouche flanked by figures of putti and decorated it with flowers and acanthus leaves of amazingly fine workmanship. The mirror stands on the toilet table together with a splendid porcelain toilet set, made at the St Petersburg Imperial Porcelain Factory in the 1830s but imitating eighteenth-century models. The table with its marble top of Baroque shape; the chairs, the armchairs, and the settee made of gilt carved wood, with coverings of the same silk as the wall upholstery, all date from the 1850s. The room is lit by a chandelier with crystal pendants shaped as oak leaves, made at the Nazya Glass Factory. The elaborately curving lines and the lavish ornamentation of the furniture and the mirror, the pattern of the silk hangings, the style of the formal portraits, and the dainty statuettes of Meissen porcelain, all combine to create a characteristic palace interior of the third quarter of the eighteenth century.

The display of the Dressing Room exactly reproduces the exhibition held in the room before 1941.




The Dressing Room


Carle van Loo.
Portrait of Empress Elizabeth,
daughter of Peter the Great.
1760.
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