THE STROGANOFF MUSEUM
On my quest to find decorative painting around the world, during the annual salon event, I found these gems in St. Petersburg, Russia. This is part one of a two part blog.
The Stroganoff’s were Russia’s most influential and wealthy family whose entrepreneurship was significant within the patronage of the arts. The family’s first home was built originally in a baroque manner in the early 18th century. Their reign grew and by the late 18th and early 19th c., they recruited architect, Andrei Voronikhin, to refurbish the entire Stroganoff palace transforming the place into a refined, neoclassical interior style. After the October Revolution in 1917, the Stroganoffs left Russia. Subsequently, the Soviets nationalized the palace and turned it into a museum fairly recently after ongoing a large restoration. Today, the museum adorns a decadent ‘Empire Style‘ and spectacular works of trompe l’oeil as well as paintings of masters such as Sandro Botticelli and Anthony Van Dyke.
The Stroganoff Museum was reminiscent of the Frick Collection here in New York.
This is a polychrome style of ornamentation.There is an interesting use of colors that are vibrant and bright.
The style of the trompe l’oeil is immensely clean and simple. It is renovated work and has a bit of a dryness to it but it is very efficient and legible from a far, just like theatre work.
The domed ceilings and coves were awesome— the architecture has multiple domed ceilings and a handful are done with trompe l’oeil techniques.
Colors are very simple and unfaded. The effect is still believable and draws a dramatic effect.
Very detailed on the ornament but the highlights and shadows are dramatic, which is necessary for ceiling work to be seen from afar. Check out my previous post about the elements of light and shadow!
You can see the range of colors in this next example. It has a simplicity to it that acts abundantly geometric in its features. The craftsmen used stencils to create the the small detail on the framework.
In this ceiling work, the creative use of hard shadows and strong colors contributes to the very decorative effect.
Some rooms have grotesca style painting, painted in oil with fine detail. These symmetrical vertical ornaments showcase the ability of the craftsmen that painted them.
The use of complementary colors really make it pop. Here are two excellent examples of polychrome ornamentation.
The following pictures are obviously very recently painted as you can tell by the very sharp and clean design. What interests me here, is the usage of very bright greens and reds applied in a very chalky manner. The ornamentation is stunning and looks so clean from below.
This is an example what seemed to be either original or restored work. But then again, the usage of lavender blues, whites and pink works so well. The Russian style of painting utilized a lot of primary colors in strong valued arrangement. Probably given the low luminosity during the winter time. These strong palettes lit by the candle light would have brought much warmth to the residents.
This medallion is striking with the use of yellow as a highlight. It’s usage of very bright highlights and dark shadows increases the depth (see step by step medallion).
Here is a fine example of scagliola marble column. In two colors but with the right amount of fragments to create a more “natural,” made-up marble.
Overall, this gem of a museum yielded tremendous amount of reference and inspiration material. I can’t help but think what it must have been like back then. This little wonder was well worth the trip.
Part two will be in a difference scale. The enormous, but nonetheless exquisite Hermitage Palace.