The Portrait Hall of the Catherine Palace retained its original décor planned by Rastrelli for two centuries. From early on it was used to display formal depictions of Russian rulers. The interior was completely destroyed during the war and was recreated from photographs and surviving fragments of décor.
Today the walls, lined with white patterned damask framed with gilded carving are hung with large formal portraits of Catherine I, by Ivan Adolsky (last quarter of the seventeenth century – after 1729), and Empress Elizabeth, by Heinrich Buchholtz (1735–1780), who incorporated into his canvas a portrait made by Louis Caravaque, and also two portraits by unknown eighteenth-century artists – of Natalia Alexeyevna (the sister of Peter the Great) and Catherine II.
The ceiling of the Portrait Hall is adorned by a painting transferred to Tsarskoe Selo from the Yusupov Palace in St Petersburg. Mount Olympus or Mercury and Glory was, Italian specialists believe, painted by Giovanni Scajario (a.k.a. Scajaro, Scagliaro, Scaggiaro; 1726–1762).
Giving an impression of the presence of Empress Elizabeth Petrovna, the hall recently housed the unique paper sculpture of the Empress in her official court attire (see below; now at The Romanovs at Tsarskoye Selo exhibition), made by the world-renowned Belgian artist Isabelle de Borchgrave for the exhibition marking Elizabeth's 300th Birth Anniversary in December of 2009.