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The Grand Palace of Peterhof


In particular, Leblon demanded the increase of the window and door openings and the expansion of the balcony of the Italian Hall (the Picture Hall), that was "more decent for a better view than the balcony, where only four persons can stand."
Grand Palace of PeterhofBergholz wrote the following about the interiors of Peter’s time: ".. Rooms are small, but not bad, covered with good pictures, and furnished with beautiful furniture ... Among the paintings placed in the palace the one above the porch, representing a battle in which the Russians smash the Swedish troops and make them flee, depicts the tzar... excellently and very similar ... ".

After the death of Leblond (1719) the works on the final design of the palace continued Niccolo Michetti, who added to the building extended symmetrical galleries on the sides.
With the accession of Peter’s daughter, Empress Elizabeth, an extensive work on the reconstruction of the palace in Peterhof began. In 1745, Bartolomeo Francesco Rastrelli "invented" new drawings of the building. In the centre he preserved as a historical core Peter's Upper Chambers. At the same time he had renewed the side galleries and completed them with magnificent Wings beneath the Coat-of-Arms and beneath the Cross. From the Upper Garden the architect "split" the façade into wings-risalits, in the western one he placed the Grand Staircase and the Light gallery (the Ballroom – the most luxurious palace premises). The interiors were decorated by Rastrelli with refined opulence. Ceremonial halls are equipped with pendant "mirror" arches decorated with plafond paintings. The abundance of gilding, mirrors and murals creates a feeling of an endless holiday. The works started in 1747 were completed in 1756 and marked with noisy celebrations. The Empress Catherine II, who ascended the throne in 1762, dismissed Rastrelli, and his place at the court was taken by other architects. Especially popular was Jean-Baptiste Vallin de la Mothe, who had been invited from France to head the Architectural classes at the Peterhof with its Grand Palace and breathtaking fountainsAcademy of Arts still at the times of the Empress Elizabeth. In 1766-1767 he remodels two halls in the Grand Palace. They are adjacent to the Portrait Hall from the east and from the west, and designs them in the fashionable back then "chinoiserie" style (from the French chinois - Chinese). Another major architect of Catherine's era was Yuri Felten. In the 1770s he rebuilt several gala rooms of the palace – the Antechamber, the Throne Room and the Dining Room. It was the last major alteration to the building that, despite some changes in the interior in the years 1847-1850 introduced by Andrew Shtakenshneider, appears to be exclusively the monument of the XVIII century.

The main rooms of the palace, constituting the gala enfilade, are arranged according to the "palace regulations" on the second floor. The enfilade consists of several official halls: the Anteroom (the Chesma Hall), the Ceremonial Throne Hall, the Audience Hall, the Light Gallery (the Ballroom), The White Dining Room, the Picture Hall (central hall of Peter's upper chambers), the Western and the Eastern Chinese studies, rooms for secretaries and courtiers. The official half of the palace is followed by private reception halls, where the access was open only to a narrow circle of people. These are bedrooms, private imperial rooms, toilets and lounges.

On the ground floor originally there were household rooms, rooms for servants and a white-marble vestibule (according to Bergholtz "a big beautiful porch with pretty columns"), from where an oak staircase of Peter's time leads to the second floor. The staircase does not strike either with the size or with the pomp of its decoration. Its design involved a French sculptor Nicola Pinot, who skillfully performed the wooden carving of the balusters. It also exhibits a large portrait of Peter I with a marshal's baton decorated with the ribbon of the Order of St. Andrew the First Called, painted by a Danish master Benoit Koffr in 1716 during Peter’s visit in Copenhagen.

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