The collection of 17th- and 18th-century Western European paintings that appeared at Empress Elizabeth’s behest on the walls of Rastrelli’s Picture Hall and the works of the artist Johann Friedrich Grooth that adorned the Monbijou pavilion in the park became the foundation of the Tsarskoye Selo picture collection that was then enlarged under later owners of Tsarskoye Selo. The crowned masters and mistresses of the residence not only moved their favourite canvases to the summer residence from the Winter Palace and other imperial palaces, but also purchased works by old and contemporary artists, commissioned portraits of themselves, their relatives and political allies, and received as gifts works of art created to mark a family or historical occasion. By the early 20th century the painting collection numbered some 400 works, including works by, Jacob Philipp Hackert, Hubert Robert, Giovanni Battista dell’Era, Madonna and Child by Niccolò Berrettoni, landscapes by Semyon Shchedrin, Mountain Landscape by the celebrated Spanish artist Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, as well as canvases by Ivan Aivazovsky, Nikanor Chernetsov, Apollinary Goravsky, Paul Weber and Otto Piltz.
This album, presenting a hundred works from the imperial painting collection, opens a series devoted to collections of Tsarskoye Selo. In the extensive introduction and annotations the author reflects on the history of the collection and explains the meaning of the presented works and their importance for Russian and European art. It is the first attempt since 1918 on a methodical publication on the subject, which, thanks to archive and literary source studies and modern research technologies, contains a number of significant changes in the authorships and dates.
This publication is intended for both specialists and interested general readers.