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The Waiters’ Room

Charles Cameron split the Waiters’ Room, one of the service rooms in the eighteenth-century Great Palace (the Catherine Palace) at the time of Paul I, in two with a crosswise partition, making two anterooms, one of which was in semidarkness and led to the stairs.

The interior of the Waiters’ Room suffered badly during the 1820 fire after which the decoration created by the Scottish architect was recreated with some changes by Vasily Stasov. He retained the main principle in the artistic treatment of the room – the symmetrical division of the walls by wooden pilasters painted in imitation of marble and linked by plaster arches. Since Cameron’s prototypes had been lost, the detail work was carried out to Stasov’s designs. For the same reason the ceiling of the room was left white.

In the 1840s, on Nicholas I’s instructions, Stasov removed the partition and the two “anterooms” became a bright and spacious hall. The austere look of the interior was considerably enriched by a parquet with a precise geometrical pattern, created at this time from precious varieties of wood: palisander, amaranth, mahogany, ebony, oak and maple. The parquet from one of the “anterooms” was reused for the central part of the floor. This floor perished in a fire in 1863. Today the hall contains a parquet floor created in the mid-1860s that survived the Second World War.

In 1855, under the direction of Stakenschneider, a painting by Pietro Liberi, a seventeenth-century artist of the Venetian school, was installed in the centre of the ceiling in the Waiters’ Room. It is framed by gilded rods and stucco ornament and complemented by decorative painted medallions. The entire ceiling decoration perished in the war.

After the war the destroyed interior of the Waiters’ Room was recreated: two surviving pilasters were used as models to make the other eighteen, the surviving parquet floor was restored and in 1959 the room was opened to visitors.

On display here today are marquetry card-tables from the late eighteenth century, a Swedish-made chest of drawers from the second half of that century and mahogany chairs made by Russian craftsmen in the nineteenth century. The walls are hung with paintings from the Tsarskoye Selo collection: a Mountain Landscape by Murillo, a View from the Palatine Hill by Pietro Labruzzi, a Waterfall at Tivoli by Andrea Locatelli and Ruins by Alexei Belsky.
 

The Waiters’ Room
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