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The Picture Gallery

Vincenzo Brenna built the Picture Gallery between 1797 and 1799. It combines elements of a state palace interior and a museum of painting. In correspondence with the original intention, the decor of the Picture Gallery is extremely modest, serving only as a frame for the colourful display of pictures covering the entire surface of the walls. This effect is intensified by three pictorial compositions on the ceiling - The Triumph of Apollo, The Judgement of Pans and The Three Graces (originally painted by Johann Jakob Mettenleiter, recreated after the war from photographs and analogies). The three aforementioned compositions can be seen on the original design for the ceiling of the Picture Gallery made by Pietro Gonzaga. This leads to the conclusion that originally not just the three panels were executed, but all their decorative surroundings too, in the form of a vault with illusory representations of sculptures.

The original list of pictures lining the walls of the Picture Gallery, has not survived. All that is known is that there were eighty eight pictures in all. This number consequently changed. What can be said with confidence, however, is that they were works from the various European schools dating from the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Several of them were deliberately acquired by Pavel and Maria for Pavlovsk. It is also known that Pavel and Maria visited artists' studios during their trip to Europe and sometimes had works specially commissioned for them. The rest of the pictures were mostly taken from the Hermitage following Pavel's accession to the throne. After the revolution, several pictures were returned to the Hermitage and others were sold abroad.

Girandoles and vases stood in the gallery on artificial marble pedestals of various tones (still to be restored), are echoing the different hues of the works of painting on the walls. Among the original furnishings are two crystal chandeliers with blue glass pivots (J. Zech, St Petersburg, 1790s). Also from the early period are the Gossips - porcelain vases with decorative female figures (Imperial Porcelain Factory, St Petersburg, 1 808).