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The Chapel

The Pavlovsk palace chapel was designed by Vincenzo Brenna and built in 1799. Its interior was typical of churches in St Petersburg during the era of Classicism, which were orientated partially on European models, in a departure from the traditional Russian church with its multi-tiered iconostasis. The interior of the Chapel represents a single volume with an apse on the eastern side and a choral gallery on the western side raised to the same level as the palace state rooms. The gallery contained the places for the members of the Imperial family. There were virtually no original pictures specially created for the Chapel - these were in the main copies from famous works by West-European artists. The programme of the interior design is unknown and here one can only build hypotheses. There were two main themes. The first was the Apostle Paul, the saint who shared the same name as the owner of the palace. Thus the plafond The Conversion of Saul (Johann Jakob Mettenleiter, after a reworked composition by Sir Peter Paul Rubens, circa 1798), recreated after the war from photographs and analogies. The second theme was the Mother of God, which runs through several pictures in deliberate chronological order - the Archangel Gabriel from the composition The Annunciation (after Guido Reni, reconstructed by A. Treskin), The Immaculate Conception (from Bartolome Esteban Murillo, reduced copy by A. Treskin, 1798), Holy Night (after Antonio Allegri Correggio, reconstructed by A. Treskin) and The Holy Family (from Pompeo Batoni, copy by A. Treskin).

Unlike the interior design of traditional Russian churches, sculpture occupies a prominent place here. On the iconostasis are the figures of two angels (Ivan Prokofiev, 1799; recreated by T. Shabalkma and N. Maltseva from photographs and analogies, 1977). The niches of the gallery contain statues symbolizing Faith, with a cross and a chalice, and Religion with a book (unknown sculptor, 1799; recreated by N. Maltseva, 1975-77). The figures of two angels with a cross in the circular niche above the gallery are traditionally attributed to Mikhail Kozlovsky (1799). They were recreated by the sculptor T. Shabalkma in 1977. Almost the entire finish and decor of the Chapel are post-war recreations. The only surviving originals are The Immaculate Conception in the iconostasis (copy made by Piotr Drozhdin) and the silver church-lustre (chandelier), icon-lamps and standard lamps (after drawings by the architect M. Kazakov, executed by the silvermaster J. Buch circa 1799).

Another item to have survived to the present day is one of the carved standard lamps that stood on consoles along the walls. Its original gilding was, however, almost completely lost and had to be recreated in the course of reconstruction work on the Chapel. The carved iconostasis, the original design of which can with confidence be attributed to M. Kazakov, was also created anew. It was recreated on the basis of photographs and analogies and the carving was executed by the engraver V. Poliakin between 1975 and 1977. Reports of the victories of Field Marshal Alexander Suvorov and the Russian Army in Italy were read out in the Chapel of the Pavlovsk Palace. Here, on 9 August 1 799, the news was broadcast of the taking of the fortress of Mantoui and "the total cleansing of Italy of enemy forces". Prayers were offered for "a long life to the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, Field Marsh Prince of Italia and Russia, Count Suvorov Rymniksky and all ... the army". It was here then that Suvorov's new appendage of "Prince of Italia" (Italiisky) was first proclaimed.

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