The furniture collection of the State Museum-Preserve Tsarskoye Selo was initially formed by the items commissioned and purchased for the imperial summer residence. The interiors of the Catherine and Alexander Palaces reflect personal artistic tastes of the owners, as well as their political ambitions. A number of celebrated architects realized their boldest designs at Tsarskoye Selo while making the ideas of their crowned clients a reality here. The furniture for the interiors was created either under their supervision or after their designs. The sets and single items are valuable not only as pieces of art but also as the unique memorial furnishings “telling” us about the everyday life of imperial and grand ducal families and thus enriching our knowledge of Russian history.
The following Russian, Western European and Asian objects of the 18th – 20th centuries can, without exaggeration, be called true masterpieces of the collection: the Tula armchairs of Empress Elizabeth, the silver writing desks of Catherine II, the glass furniture of the “Snuffbox”, the bureau by M. Veretennikov, the items designed by Rastrelli, Cameron and Stasov, the secretaire by Abraham Roentgen, the nacre table the Sultan of Turkey presented to Catherine II, Chinese black-lacquer chairs and armchairs.
The Tsarskoye Selo art furniture collection, comprehensively illustrating the succession of artistic styles and the development of applied decorative art, suffered great losses at least twice after the palace became the museum in 1918. The best pieces were auctioned during the massive sales in the late 1920s. Over 2000 pieces were gone during the German occupation of Pushkin Town in 1941-43. Nevertheless, thanks to the professionals of the Museum, a unique collection has survived, with many objects now back in their historical places among the re-created halls.
This is the first complete publication of the Tsarskoye Selo furniture collection, with lots of historical and modern illustrations, a thorough account of the history and use of the unique objects with the information about Russian and Western European masters who created them. It will give the reader the opportunity to experience the exquisite beauty each of those masterpieces brought into the inimitable variety of the palace interiors of Tsarskoye Selo.