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The painting collection at the Gatchina Palace held over 2000 pictures before 1941. It was started by Count G.G. Orlov and added by each of its successive owners. By 1917, it had grown into a rich and extensive collection of West European and Russian painting.
Included in the collection were splendid official portraits of members from influential European houses, such as portraits painted by Martin van Meytens the Younger, A. Ramsay; F. X. Winterhalter; unpretentious family portraits that entered the collection in the 1920-30s from the estates nearby Gatchina, and paintings acquired by Alexander III and Empress Maria Feodorvna, hence the presence in the collection of Scandinavian works, not commonly found in Russia. Currently, there are 1231 paintings that have survived from the original Gatchina collection, but only 235 of those are in the Gatchina Museum-Preserve. Quite a few paintings from the collection were distributed among the museums of the former USSR in the 1950-70s.
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