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The Divan Room

The Divan Room is an almost square chamber with two windows looking north, and a third facing east. Opposite the windows is a partition wall with a figured arch leading to a recess. In its layout, size, and decor, the apartment has much in common with the adjacent Partridge Reception Room. The pier between the windows of the north wall is occupied by an oblong mirror in a figured gilt frame, carved with the foliate ornament so greatly favoured by Bartolomeo Francesco Rastrelli. The white panels in the lower part of the walls, as well as the doors, are enriched with gilded mouldings, scrolls, rocailles, floral sprays, foliage, rosettes within wreaths, and stylized figures of birds. The frieze and cornice are accentuated by strips of moulding and gilded festoons of flowers. The manner of Velten, who worked here from 1770 to 1773 and was responsible for the final design, is felt in the shape of the garlands, and in the treatment of the ceiling, which combines in its decor grisaille, fine moulding, and delicate polychrome painting.

The walls of the Divan Room are upholstered with painted silk depicting scenes of Chinese country life. Side by side with the genuine Chinese fabric of the early eighteenth century there are several pieces reproduced between 1964 and 1971 by Anastasia Vasilyeva, a textile restorer, who rediscovered the long-lost art of using natural dyes on silk. The white partition wall is richly decorated with gilded mouldings: rosettes within wreaths, festoons, pendant flower garlands, stylized foliage, and Arcadian shepherd's staffs, set within panels enframed by mouldings. The lighting apertures over the partition doors are small masterpieces of decorative art. They show a sculptural group of two putti sporting with a flower garland. The dynamic poses of the putti, their lively faces and expressive gestures, and the simple, humorous treatment of the action make the group very attractive. The sculptors Mikhailova and Maslennikov, and the woodcarver Kemnits showed great artistic sensitivity in their reproduction of late eighteenth-century originals by Dunker.

A large portion of the room is taken up by a Turkish divan with an elegant white balustrade as its footpiece (hence its present name).

Noteworthy among objects preserved here for a long time are the portrait of Elizabeth Petrovna as a child, a copy from Louis Caravaque's work; the porcelain egg-shaped vase made by St Petersburg craftsmen; and the porcelain sculpture depicting Cathierine the Great's pet, the Italian greyhound Zemira, lying on a pillow - a piece amazing for its expressiveness. The dog's figure was produced at the Imperial Porcelain Factory in 1779 to the design of the sculptor Jean Dominique Rachette.

The tete-a-tete coffee set, which stands on a small table, was manufactured at the Vienna Imperial Porcelain Factory. One of the most remarkable objects in this interior is a vase from the mid-eighteenth century, the time of the great Dmitry Vinogradov, the inventor and first manufacturer of Russian porcelain.

Restored in 1964, the Divan Room, with its characteristic combination of palatial grandeur and intimate cosiness, is a typical example of a palace interior of the 1770s.

The Divan Room.

The Divan Room.
Detail of silk wall covering.

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