Indepth Arts News: |
"War and Peace: A German Tsarina in Pavlovsk Palace"
2001-11-09 until 2002-02-10
Haus der Kunst
The Tsarist palace of Pavlovsk with its vast park ensemble, about thirty kilometers south of St. Petersburg, can justifiably be designated the creation of a German princess. Its international reputation is inseparably associated with the name Maria Fjodorovna, née Sophie Dorothée von Württemberg.
This German princess, subsequently Grand Duchess, Tsarina and widow of the Tsar, devoted forty years of her life to constructing and designing the palace and the park grounds. With all her energy, with her great artistic talent, her knowledge of botany, her social engagement, and not least with the financial means available to her as Grand Duchess and Tsarina, she transformed Pavlovsk from a natural wilderness into a cultural center of German–Russian relations that continued to have an impact long after her death and even today still plays an important role in the cultural life of Russia.
In their artistic diversity and stylistic perfection, the palace and the garden landscape of Pavlovsk are one of the most beautiful examples of the harmonious combination of art, nature and life, laying the foundations of the ideal of romantic classicism in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. In this ensemble of architecture and landscape, which still exists today, a world design becomes graphically tangible, incorporating the Russo-German culture of the nobility of the 18th century and the philosophy of the Enlightenment in a unique synthesis.
The exhibition demonstrates the historical aspects that led to the founding of Pavlovsk, and also paints a vivid picture of the ideas and living ideals realized in the palace and its park. More than 500 exhibits from all branches of art and craft provide a convincing impression of the high artistic quality of the entire ensemble and its furnishings and appointments. Furthermore, the exhibited works tell an impressive story of the turbulent history of the palace and the lives of its occupants at the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th centuries when the Russian nobility was at its political and cultural zenith – a story that Tolstoy described with such insight and so graphically in his novel War and Peace.
This is the first time that such a large number of exhibits of such outstanding quality – acquired specially for Pavlovsk by Maria Fjodorovna and Paul I. – has been seen in an exhibition outside the palace. This is owing to the fact that, through the logistical and financial support of German companies, comprehensive security and restoration measures have been carried out in Pavlovsk – it was after all the German occupiers who destroyed this jewel of Russian and European culture. Today, after more than sixty years of continuous restoration work, the palace and the park radiate a fresh resplendence, furnished with thousands of original works of painting, sculpture and applied art that had been evacuated, buried on site and thus rescued for posterity.
Portrait of Großfürstin Maria Fjodorowna
in lifesize, 1777
Oil on Linen
245 x 167 cm
Staatliches Schloßmuseum Pawlowsk