The Lyons Hall of the Catherine Palace is one of the interiors waiting to be restored. At the present time, the Lyons Hall welcomes our visitors with the surviving items from its pre-war furnishings and a copy of Luigi Premazzi’s watercolour of 1878 titled The Lyons Hall (Yellow Drawing-Room) in the Great Palace of Tsarskoye Selo, which demonstrates its mid-nineteenth century splendour.
The interior is the creation of two architects: Charles Cameron and later Ippolito Monighetti. Decorated with lapis lazuli and a luxury silk wall lining from Lyons (hence the name), the hall was finished by Cameron in the eighteenth century Classical style in 1781-83. It was reworked in 1848-61 by Monighetti who treated Cameron’s work with great delicacy, intensifying the visual impact of the room by adding new furnishings: mirrors above the fireplaces, flanked by white marble cupids, and lapis-lazuli sconces on the walls. The room was filled with tables, jardinières, cachepots, screens, pedestals and desks.
Monighetti designed the gorgeous chandelier (see below left) for 84 candles made of lapis lazuli and gilded bronze, which beautifully completed the now-lost exquisite ceiling décor.
The architect’s highlight for the Lyons Hall is the gilt-bronze and lapis-lazuli furniture set (see below) with such a unique feature as the monogram of Empress Maria Alexandrovna, spouse of Alexander II. The initials are an indication of the owner for whom these pieces were specially commissioned in 1856 from the Peterhof Lapidary Works to spruce up the empress’s favourite interior of the palace. Its Afghan lapis lazuli of rich deep colour with golden speckles is superbly set off by the gilded bronze surroundings.
Besides the marvellous furniture set, also saved by the evacuation in 1941–44 and featured on the current display are the two paintings: Raphael’s Death by Felice Schiavoni (see below middle) and The Sibyl of Libya by Giovanni Francesco Barbieri (Guercino) (below left).
Lyons Hall is currently closed for restoration