Topic: Tsarskoye Selo
The Zubov Wing of the Catherine Palace at Tsarskoye Selo. Photo © Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve
The Zubov Wing is an extension to the Catherine Palace at Tsarskoye Selo, that was named after one of Empress Catherine II’s favourites. It was constructed between 1779 and 1785 to the design of the architect Yury Velten (1730–1801). Its construction was supervised by Ilya Neyelov (1745–1793).
The rooms on the second storey were designed and finished by Charles Cameron and Giacomo Quarenghi (1744–1817). They became the private apartments of the Empress and comprised the Domed Hall, Chinese Hall, Silver Study, Bedchamber, Blue Study, Mirror Study, Raphael Room, Maid-of-Honour’s Room and Dressing-Room.
Cameron’s interiors formed an integral complex and were linked to the Cold Bath pavilion by the hanging garden.
The rooms on the ground floor, also finished by Cameron and Quarenghi, were used by Catherine’s favourites: in succession Grigory Potemkin, Alexander Lanskoi, Alexander Dmitriyev-Mamonov and Platon Zubov. Later relatives and close friends of the imperial family lived in this part of the palace. The wing had its own separate entrance that also came to be named after Zubov.
The Asiatic (Turkish Room) of Emperor Alexander II. Artist: Edward Petrovich Hau
In 1841, in view of the approaching marriage of the heir to the throne (the future Alexander II), the architect Ippolito Monighetti was ordered to refurbish the rooms in the Zubov Wing. The apartments on the ground floor were given to the Grand Duke, and Catherine II’s former rooms to his bride – Maria Alexandrovna (née Princess Marie of Hesse and by Rhine).
Alexander II’s private apartments comprised the Entrance Hall, Reception Room, Standard Room, Arsenal Room, Pantry, Asiatic (Turkish) Room, Study, Dressing-Room, Valet’s Room and Wardrobe. Three of them – the Study, Reception Room and Dressing-Room – were intended for official receptions and working meetings.
The floors were linked by two staircases: the first, Bosquet Staircase, led from a corridor to the Domed Hall. The same corridor was connected to the small Entrance Hall where Alexander’s apartments began. The second, internal, staircase linked the Empress’s private rooms to the Emperor’s Valet’s Room.
During the Second World War the rooms of the Zubov Wing that had retained the decoration from the mid-nineteenth century suffered in a serious fire. In the 1950s they were reconstructed for the use of the naval college that was housed in this section of the Catherine Palace at that time. As a result of this work the historical dimensions of rooms were disrupted while the surviving fragments of decoration were removed and transferred to the museum storerooms.
Restoration work in 2001–04 gave the Zubov Wing back its original layout and now the ground-floor rooms are used for temporary exhibitions, the most recent: The Romanovs: From Tsarskoye Selo to Cincinnati and Serving Magnificence: Suppliers to the Russian Imperial Court.
© Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve and Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 13 August, 2013