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Lyons Hall is back


Restored to its former splendour, the Lyons Hall now fully completes the Catherine Palace’s Suite of State Rooms, a.k.a. the Golden Enfilade whose revival took 74 years after World War Two and is now finished with the recent restoration of the Palace Chapel on the northern end and the opening of the Lyons Hall on the southern end of the Enfilade.

A breakthrough in our Lyons Hall Reconstruction Project became possible thanks to financial support from Gazprom and the ENGIE Foundation (France). The opening ceremony took place on 5 June 2019 and was led by Olga Golodets, Deputy Prime Minister of Russia; Olga Taratynova, Director of Tsarskoe Selo; Elena Burmistrova, Deputy CEO of Gazprom; Sylvie Bermann, French Ambassador to the Russian Federation; Jean-Pierre Clamadieu, Chairman of ENGIE; and Gérard Mestrallet, Chairman of Honour of ENGIE and former Chairman of the ENGIE Foundation.

The opulent Lyons Hall derived its name from the silk lining by the Lyons-based Lamy et Giraud weaving factory, now the Prelle Manufactory. A combination of golden silk and lapis lazuli in its interior design produced an aura of remarkable sophistication.  The lining underwent numerous changes after the time of Catherine the Great. In the mid-19th century, the Lyons Hall became a gala reception room and the golden fabric was replaced by crimson silk with floral garlands. In 1866, the walls were reclad in yellow silk of a hue called Golden Bud. That version of the interior is immortalized in Luigi Premazzi’s watercolour of 1878 (see pic.1 above).

The Hall was destroyed during the war but some of its furnishings were saved by evacuation, including twenty five pieces of unique lapis-lazuli furniture and silk samples. Also saved were the palace’s inventory records, archival documents and photographs. The parquet floor was looted but later found in Berlin and returned to Tsarskoe Selo in 1947.

The Lyons Hall Reconstruction Project was drawn up in 1983. However, it was not until 2005 that the first step was made by bringing the room back to its original dimensions. Work was carried out on a step-by-step basis because re-creating an entire room is extremely costly and time-consuming. Three lapis lazuli portals framing the Hall’s doorways were restored thanks to the backing of our art patrons, the TransSoyuz Charitable Foundation.

A new stage in the project was launched in 2018 when Tsarskoe Selo, Gazprom and the ENGIE Foundation signed Lyons Hall Reconstruction Agreement. With funds from the ENGIE Foundation, 320 metres of the Golden Bud silk (Lampas bouton d'or Louis XVI) for the walls, furniture and curtains were remade at the Prelle Manufactory by French masters, whose predecessors were commissioned by the Russian imperial court in the 1860s. Gazprom financed the recreation of the ornate plafond and lapis lazuli mosaic panels (by the Tsarskoe Selo Amber Workshop), as well as the making of draped curtains and the covering of walls with the French silk (by St Petersburg’s Alpina company).

The Lyons Hall is currently included in Catherine Palace Tour II