The Hall of war
The Hall of War was originally the Grand Duke's State Drawing Room. It was the Small Throne Room from 1797 to 1801 and the State Drawing Room from 1805. The name of the War Room corresponded to its decorative finish.
The Hall of War is another excellent example of the work of successive architects - Charles Cameron, Vincenzo Brenna and Andrei Voronikhin. Its form (octagonal with niches and covered with a vault) was designed by Cameron. Brenna completed its decorative finish in 1789, covering the entire ceiling with a painting. After Pavel became Emperor in 1796, the War Room was replanned as the Throne Room (1796-97). All the furniture was removed, a throne was placed under a canopy and the niches were filled with three ancient busts. After the fire of 1803, the room was revived by Voronikhin as the State Drawing Room. The vaulted ceiling was decorated with stucco moulding and the sculptors S. Teglev and M. Alexandrov (Uvazhny) made bas-reliefs on mythological themes (from the story of Perseus and Odysseus) for the supports. A suite of furniture in the shape of Roman curules was specially manufactured for the room in St Petersburg and painted in imitation of ancient bronze. The War Room was lit by a large bronze lamp (now in the Greek Room).
The War Room was restored after the war and currently contains eight carved gilt standard lamps (recreated after the war from photographs of late eighteenth century standard lamps) and a suite of curules (two originals of 1804-05, the rest are post-war copies). The plaster stove has been partially restored. The eight bas-reliefs in the supports of the vault were recast after the heavily damaged originals following their restoration in 1945-60.
The niches contain two ancient busts. To the right of the arch is a portrait of the Roman Emperor Septimius Severus (late 2nd century AD) and between the windows is a portrait of the Roman Emperor Elagabalus (?) (early 3rd century AD). A third niche contains a portrait of the Roman commander Agrippa (head, 18th century copy from an antique). The War Room is temporaril home to an extremely elegant bronze lamp (P. Goutier (?) France, late 18th century) from the original furnishings of St Michael's Castle. It later found its way into the Imperial Hermitage and then into Gatchina Palace in the 1850s. In front of the window stands a porcelain (cobalt) vase from the Sevres Royal Manufactory near Paris, which was from 1805 in the Greek Hall.