Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Chinese Palace at Oranienbaum, an addition to Prince Alexander Menshikov’s estate at Oranienbaum, was the first palace commissioned by Russian empress Catherine the Great following her seizure of power from her husband. The palace was designed in the Rococo style by Italian architect Antonio Rinaldi and was constructed between 1762 and 1768. Rinaldi employed the finest craftsmen of the time to create luxuriously painted and gilded chinoiserie interiors. Unique features of the interior include the Beaded Salon, whose walls are covered in “bangle work” (thousands of tiny colored glass beads) arranged in complex images of floral and animal motifs. Unlike the majority of St. Petersburg’s country palaces that were destroyed during World War II, the Chinese Palace at Oranienbaum survived with its lavish interiors intact. The Chinese Palace at Oranienbaum, one of several buildings designed by Antonio Rinaldi for Russian nobility, is one of the most significant Russian Imperial historic sites and is among the few that did not lose their original lavish interiors built by the finest craftsmen demonstrating the skill of the workforce and the quality of materials that combined to be such showpieces of the Czar’s building campaigns. The building still has original moldings lining the interior walls and ceilings, decorative plaster, parquet marquetry floors, carvings, and paintings on plaster and canvas. These features represent exceptional Rococo European interior design.