Tuesday, 4 August 2009

What to see: Yelagin Palace, St Petersburg

One of the nicest but least known of the former imperial palaces of Russia is the Yelagin Palace, which is situated on the Yelagin Island on the northern outskirts of St Petersburg – its empire style interiors and its location on the outskirts of the (former) capital makes it somewhat reminiscent of the French Malmaison or the Swedish Rosendal.
In the late 18th century the island belonged to Ivan Perfilevich Yelagin, one of Empress Ekaterina II’s courtiers, who had a house built on the eastern tip of the island. In 1817 the house and the island were bought by Emperor Aleksandr I, who gave the architect Carlo Rossi (1775-1849) the task of transforming the house as a present to his mother, the Dowager Empress Maria Fyodorovna. This was the first important commission in St Petersburg given to the man who would become one of the most important neoclassical architects in Russia and thereby put his distinct mark on the then capital.
The house new palace was built between 1818 and 1822. However, the Dowager Empress herself did apparently not show much interest in her new island and palace – she did after all live in considerable splendour at the wonderful palace at Pavlovsk. She later ceded the Yelagin Palace and island to her third son, who made it his official summer residence when he became Emperor Nikolaj I.
It remained an imperial residence until the revolution in 1917. In 1942 it was badly damaged by German shelling. Although it opened as a museum in 1987, it is only during this decade that the interiors have been restored to their former splendour. The central room is the Oval Hall, seen in the third and fourth photo, which is flanked by a blue and a red drawing-room (picture 5 and 6, respectively). Other important interiors are those of the dining room (in the seventh photo) and a drawing-room decorated in the Pompeian manner (last picture) – the latter is somewhat reminiscent of the Hall of Columns in the Mikhailovsky Palace, another important Rossi work.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the photos and the description. The restoration looks impeccable. In the oval room the caryatids seem to want to fall down. I have never seen them at an angle off of a wall.
    I would like to see this palace in the near future.
    John Henry Architect www.dreamhomedesignusa.com


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