Thursday, December 5, 2013

Catherine Palace

Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli


St. Petersburg, Russia

In 1717 Catherine I of Russia wanted to build a summer palace, she contracted German architect, Johann-Friedrich Braunstein. Originally it was a fairly modest two story building. When Empress Elizabeth inherited the palace she decided it was too outdated. She had the palace completely reconstructed by a number of different architects before she finally commissioned Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli to demolish the palace and design a grander palace in its place.

The palace finally completed in 1756, and no expense was spared. More than 100 kilograms of gold were used as decoration and gilding for the 325 meter long palace. The facades are decorated with white and pastel blues, similar to the rococo style. The interior is full blown rococo, with golden state rooms and ornate gilded panels. The palace is lined with large arched windows that help to illuminated the various stucco decorations and frescos on the walls and ceiling.

One of the most extravagant interior spaces is the amber room. The entire room is covered with panels of amber mosaic. The original panels were initially a gift for Peter the Great from a Russian craftsman. Unfortunately, the original panels were lost when German troops took over the palace and shipped them off to Konigsberg. In 1982 there was a restoration effort for the amber room, which took over 20 years and $12 million dollars to finally complete.

For more information click the link below for a video tour through the palace.

class notes

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