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A tripartite agreement between Tsarskoe Selo, Beijing New Dancing Lion Art Co., Ltd. (Beijing Xinxingshi) and Gazprom Social Initiatives Support Foundation officiates the recreation of 155 lacquer wall panels for the Chinese Hall of the Catherine Palace undergoing a large restoration project of Empress Catherine II’s private rooms since 2019.

The agreement was signed by director Olga Taratynova of Tsarskoe Selo, chairman Han Jiaming of Beijing Xinxingshi and general director Vladimir Priimak of Gazprom Social Initiatives Support Foundation at the Russian Cultural Centre in Beijing on 10 October 2023. Work is expected to take 700 days to complete.

The magnificent eighteenth-century decoration of the Chinese Hall was entirely lost during the Second World War. 'Had someone told us ten years ago that Catherine's private rooms would be reconstructed, we would have never believed it possible,' says Olga Taratynova. 'It was a dream that is finally coming true thanks to Gazprom's longtime support and the craftsmanship of Chinese masters keeping to traditional techniques for centuries. Yet another confirmation that culture and museums are a powerful force capable of uniting different institutions and different countries.'

Two panels — a polychrome lacquer in the kuan cai technique and a gold on black lacquer in the miaojin technique — were trial-produced by Beijing Xinxingshi in 2022 based on some surviving eighteenth-century samples from the now-ruined Chinese Theatre in the Alexander Park. The pilot project was supervised by Mr Cheng Xiangjun, a lacquer art specialist and associate professor with the Department of Arts & Crafts within the Academy of Arts & Design at Tsinghua University, who is also deputy director of Lacquer Painting Committee in the Chinese Artists Association and director of Lacquer Art Committee in the Chinese Arts and Crafts Artists Association, and by lacquer restoration specialists from the Palace Museum of Beijing. Unable to monitor the process onsite due to pandemic restrictions, our museum's restoration council kept in touch with the Chinese lacquer art craftsmen via video conferences and finally made the decision to place the full order upon the very satisfactory results.

The Chinese Hall is the largest room to be reconstructed during our project The Private Space of Catherine II launched together with PAO Gazprom in October 2019. The other seven rooms under reconstruction in the Zubov Wing of the Catherine Palace are the Blue Study or Snuffbox, the Mirror and Silver Studies, the Bedroom, the Domed Hall, the Dressing Room and the Raphael Room. Those were the private apartments of Catherine the Great, designed for her by the architects Charles Cameron and Giacomo Quarenghi in the eighteenth century and destroyed during the Second World War.