View of the Palace from the Marienthal Pond
Watercolor, 40.5 x 55cm
From the Atlas of Pavlovsk Palace, 1803
Among the great historico-cultural complexes in the environs of Saint Petersburg the latest to be created was Pavlovsk. Its fame rests on the splendour of the palace with its classical architecture, its sumptuous interiors and great art collections, and on the beauty of the spacious park, which covers around 1,500 acres and is one of the country's largest and most picturesque. A country residence of the Russian imperial family, it was created by a succession of outstanding architects, painters and sculptors within a relatively short span of time: begun around 1780, it was virtually completed by 1825. Construction was started and the first variant realized by the architect Charles Cameron, after whom his ideas and general design were developed and carried out by Vincenzo Brenna, Giacomo Quarenghi, Andrey Voronikhin, Thomas Jean Thomas de Thomon, Carlo Rossi, Pietro Gonzaga and others. Men of rare talent and superior culture, they built up a complex characterized by exceptional unity of style, however different their artistic individualities and aesthetic ideals.
The Pavlovsk park, now one of the finest examples of landscape gardening, was laid out on a tract of land covered with swamps and forest. Its numerous decorative pavilions and remarkable statuary have been skilfully introduced into a landscape background; nature and art are blended here in the utmost harmony. In addition to the galaxy of talented architects who built Pavlovsk. such eminent sculptors as Ivan Prokofyev, Fiodor Gordeyev, Ivan Martos, Mikhail Kozlovsky and Vasily Demuth-Malinovsky contributed to the decoration of the park and of the palace.
Its palace and landscape park are not the only remarkable features of the Pavlovsk complex. Most important are also the rare collections of furniture, artistic textiles, objects in hard stone, in porcelain, crystal glass and ivory, decorating the exquisitely furnished interiors. Exceptionally rich and varied, these collections have long since assured the Pavlovsk Palace a place of honour among the country residences of Russia. Gathered together here are specimens of the highest order of every existing form of line and applied arts, both Russian and those of many other lands. However individual in themselves, these objects were used in interior decoration to create an artistic unit in a way which shows the relined taste and high skill of the architects.
The formation of the Pavlovsk complex took place during a momentous period in the history of Russia, marked by the glorious victories of the Russian armies under the generalship of Suvorov, Rumiantsev and Admiral Ushakov, and the crushing defeat of Napoleon in the Patriotic War of 1812; and its style rellects the spirit of the epoch.
In the early 1800s Pavlovsk came to be what may be called a Russian Parnassus, a place where prominent writers and poets forgathered. Among those who often visited and stayed at Pavlovsk were Vasily Zhukovsky, the poet, author of The Slavianka, an elegy praising the beauties of the park, Ivan Krylov, the fabulist, Nikolay Karamzin, the historian, Yury Neledinsky-Meletsky, the poet, and suchl writers as Nikolay Gnedich, Fiodor Glinka and Pavel Svinyin.
Nearly two hundred years have passed since the beauty of the Pavlovsk Palace and the lyric charm of its park first began to attract the attention of artists. Many a canvas, watercolour and engraving of the place have been left us by such outstanding painters and graphic artists as Semion Shchedrin, Andre Martvnov, Mikhail Ivanov, Johann Jakob Mettenleiter, Carl Kogelgen, Gavriil Sergeyev, Timofey Vasilyev, F. Filipson; and later, by Ivan Shishkin, Iosil Krachkovsky, Anna Ostroumova-Lebedeva, Alexander Benois, Vladimir Konashevich, Leonid Khizhinsky, and others whom we count among our contemporaries.