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Grecian Gallery


The Grecian Gallery represents splendid interiors created by Vincenzo Brenna for Emperor Paul I. In 1760-80s, there was an open colonnaded gallery by Antonio Rinaldi on the spot of the present gallery. By 1796 it fell into decay and Brenna suggested that the open passages be glassed and filled in with yellow-red stone of Chernets.

Paul’s idea of building a Greek-style gallery stemmed from European societys fascination with the classical era in the late 18th century. In addition, the archeological excavations in Herculaneum and Pompeii sustained the interest. The neoclassical style that emerged in France under LouisXVI with underlying Greek influences in architecture, sculpture and culture took roots in Russia and remained relevant during the reign of Paul I. The interest in classical antiquity set the trend for establishing unique “house museums” in palaces. In the Gatchina palace, the Grecian Gallery served as a museum of this kind with Italian copies of Greek sculptures prevailing in its decoration.

The Grecian Gallery was damaged greatly during World War II as was most of the palace. In the postwar time, the palace housed a military school and then a classified research institute before use of the building was suspended.

Fortunately, the museum has been able to preserve a wide variety of historic materials that came from the restoration undertaken in the mid-19th century. There were also available photographs taken before the revolution and the war, watercolors by Eduard How depicting the palace interiors as they looked in the 1860-70s after their decoration was completed, and bas-relief copies made right after Gatchina was liberated in 1944. These pictures and photographs made it possible to fully restore the splendid interior of the Grecian Gallery. The Gallerys first public opening since the war took place in 2016.