The Empress' Dressing Room

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The Dressing Room is the first truly private room in these apartments. It was finished back in 1800 per the project of Giacomo Quarenghi for the Emperor and is distinguished by its simplicity and severity. This bright room with two windows, a large mirror between them, and a mirror over the fireplace reflected in it looks spacious. This feeling is also emphasized by the white artificial marble lining of the walls. Much like panels, they are “framed” with a wide strip of light gray shade and a narrow strip of greenish-blue shade with white veins, which highlights the corners of the room. At the top, along the perimeter of the walls, there is a wide strip of a picturesque frieze separated by sparsely placed stucco brackets. The frieze is painted in a grisaille manner imitating molding: wreaths with masks and figures of cupids in combination with decorative palmettes are depicted on a lilac background. The painting of the frieze harmoniously complements the painting of the plafond. The paintings were made by Giovanni Battista Scotti.

Strict wall decor in light colors and mirrors serve as a magnificent background for unique Russian decorative items of the early 19th century. First of all, the washing set: a basin and a jug made of blue and colorless crystal set in gilded bronze. It is placed on a glass table in the center of the room, with the mirror in the background. The hexagonal tabletop of blue glass in an elegant frame of gilded bronze with embossed palmettes rests on a high twisted stem made of the so-called amber glass, which is mounted on a four-sided plinth of black glass with bronze legs in the form of lion paws. This masterpiece of Russian art glass was made at the Imperial Glass Factory. The washing set was made per the drawings of Andrey Voronikhin, and the table was made per the drawings of Jean-François Thomas de Thomon, the leading artist of the factory since 1804.

On the right, near the wall at the entrance to the Dressing Room, there is another masterpiece: the Green Vanity, made at the Imperial Porcelain Manufactory and presented to Maria Feodorovna on her name day, July 22, 1803, by her son, Emperor Alexander I. All the 34 items of a vanity set, including the tea set, are distinguished by the elegance of form and refinement of decoration. Exquisite gilded reliefs stand out on the delicate pistachio porcelain background, and antique sirens are painted in the medallions in grisaille. The central place is given to an elegant octagonal mirror in a bronze frame, at the foot of which there are two female figures in antique clothes of biscuit (unglazed) porcelain and two candlesticks in the form of porcelain vases with rose bouquets of gilded bronze. The vanity is placed on an elegant console, with its carved legs representing stylized figures of Egyptian women.

At the other window, on a small table, the base of which is also decorated with “Egyptian figures”, there is a portable vanity made of malachite with bronze decoration and an octagonal mirror in a gilded frame. Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, Maria Feodorovna's daughter-in-law, presented her with this elegant vanity on her birthday, October 14, 1826.

The furniture for the Dressing Room was made according to Andrey Voronikhin's drawings in the workshop of Heinrich Gambs. There are armchairs, banquettes, a couch, a fireplace screen, a drawing table, and two mahogany jardiniere bureaux with built-in planters for fresh flowers. It was during the reign of Empress Maria Feodorovna that flowers became an integral part of the interior decor, filling rooms with aromas of fresh flowers and so purifying the air.

The Empress' Dressing Room on the floor plane


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