Two rooms of the Catherine Palace just off the landing of the Main Staircase are now used for exhibition purposes. In former times this area was the Pantry for the storage of silver, linen and china used to lay tables in the neighbouring Cavaliers’ Dining-Room and elsewhere.
Displayed in the first room is one of the unique decorative elements from the middle of the nineteenth century that survived the war – a fragment of coving from the palace’s Great Hall.
The hall had decorative coving, smoothing the transition from walls to ceiling, from Rastrelli’s time onwards. When a complete refurbishment of the building was carried out in the 1820s following a fire, the ceilings were reworked after which the coving was recreated in the style of the Baroque décor of Rastrelli’s interior to a design by Vasily Stasov.
In the 1860s another architect, Andrei Stakenschneider (1802–1865), embellished the coving with further decorative moulding, combining rocaille curling elements with putti (cherubic infants). The stuccowork at that time was carried out by the Russian craftsman P. Dylev.
The coving existed in that form until 1941. During the subsequent reconstruction of the Great Hall it was removed and the surviving fragments are now on display in the exhibition hall.
In the centre of the hall you can see a unique model of the Great Palace at Tsarskoye Selo that was created in 1744 and reflects one of the significant stages in the history of its construction. In 1742 the architect Mikhail Zemtsov was instructed to add “galleries on columns” and “masonry outbuildings” to the existing palace building. This plan was never implemented. In 1743 a new project for the palace, drawn up by Savva Chevakinsky and his assistant Andrei Kvasov, was approved. In keeping with the practice of the period, a wooden model was produced at the same time as the paper drawings. It has survived down to the present and gives us an idea of the external appearance of the edifice before 1748. At that time the building consisted of three blocks (the two new outbuildings were designed by Kvasov), the church and the orangery hall linked together by wooden galleries. The façade of the central block was embellished by pilasters and a figured pediment.
The information stands in the second hall present the main stages in the construction of the Catherine Palace, the decoration of its interiors and the creation of the parks and pavilions in accordance with the wishes of the exalted owners of Tsarskoye Selo over the course of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.