Our restorers found a plaster head under the floor in a service room during the ongoing restoration of the Alexander Palace.
The head with traces of gilding belongs to one of the atlantes “holding the sky on their shoulders” on the façade of the Catherine Palace. It supposedly was detached and hid away in 1949, when some plaster parts of the war-damaged atlantes—mostly heads, shoulders and hands—were replaced with more durable ones of cement with metal bars inside.
According to Head Architect Natalia Kudriavtseva of Tsarskoe Selo, the find from the time of architect Rastrelli comes very handy as the Museum has been in search of the most properly surviving figure of atlas for the planned restoration of all the Catherine Palace’s atlantes.
Francesco Rastrelli designed the Catherine Palace for Empress Elizabeth Petrovna who had the façade decorations gilded. The costly practice of gilding the details easily affected by poor weather conditions was cancelled by Catherine II.
The eighteenth-century plasterwork will join the Museum’s reserve collection after it serves as a model for mouldings.