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Wax Figure of Peter I
Bartolomeo Rastrelli, 1725

Creating the exhibition in the courtyard was a joint project by Hermitage architects and scholars of the Department of Russian Culture. The fascinating architectural “exhibits” form a setting for unique articles from the famous collections known as Peter the Great's Cabinet and The Gallery of Peter I. On the ground floor several drawings illustrating alterations made to the buildings on the site of Peter I's Palace are on display.

The vaulted ceilings of Peter's time at the foot of the staircase were reinforced with concrete during restoration. The floor is covered with flagstones in the Western manner as under Peter the Great. This protected against water during floods.

The cellars lead to the state courtyard, where we can see the surviving arcade from the third Winter Palace (architect Mattarnovi, 1719-1723). This is where Peter I died in 1725. The state courtyard is laid with clinker bricks and decorated with a rich balustrade.

In the upper cobbled area of the courtyard stands a carriage used by Peter I for travel along park roads. The carriage was made to a design by Nicolas Pineau, who also did the carving, while the painting was executed by Caravaque and gilded by Michel.

A garden, small harbour and slipway for small vessels were located along the canal in the gallery by the small chambers, the main facade of which overlooked what was then called the Zimnedomny Canal.

Only a few rooms have survived in the chambers: Peter's rooms with the turnery reconstructed as it would have looked then, his study and dining-room. There are also tile stoves with cobalt painting, the “lateral” lathe from Peter's famous turnery by Yuri Kurnosy, and also a “personal” lathe for turning figures.

The walls of the chambers are hung with paintings, View of the Pont Nouveau in Paris, Rural Landscape and still lifes by Dutch artists, as well as a depiction of a Dutch tavern. On his trips abroad Peter himself purchased works of art and employed special agents to make purchases in other countries.

The Department of Russian Culture has a wide range of scientific tools and instruments which illustrate Peter's concern with the latest developments in science and learning.

Peter ordered the creation of a wax figure of himself by Bartolomeo Rastrelli in 1725. This figure, which became something of a symbol to the population of St Petersburg, was intended to be displayed in his Winter Palace, and was for many years on display in the main building of the Hermitage. It was returned to occupy its rightful place on the opening of the newly uncovered building in 1992.

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