Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Exterior Colors of the Winter Palace 1760s-1950s

On May 22nd 1888 in the 3rd Spare's former ‘Ship’ room on the 2nd floor facing the large inner courtyard, a display was arranged for Alexander III to choose a color to repaint the Winter Palace. It included models of different color tones, old paint samples and old paintings of the palace.  Archival documents reveal his decision was a denser shade of ocher than the previous decades.

In 1901, Nicholas II ordered the palace and the surrounding buildings including the General Staff on Palace Square painted red like the new fencing around the private garden. The controversial color among court officials and the public did not sway Nicholas to change his choice until 1911 when Baron Fredericks proposed a more realistic lighter pink to match the fence. It was never completed.

Samples (below) of the color scheme of the Winter Palace from the 1760s to 1950s (note the colors for the columns and the changes to the palace gates)









  1. Thank you! So interesting.
    I wonder why it was painted green in the Forties if the palace had never looked like that in previous centuries. Or was it the colour chosen by Rastrelli?

  2. In the late 1940s they were experimenting on the types of paint due to oils etc deteriorating faster with the cold temps. Different versions of ocher were prior then the dark red. Green/Blue was probably influenced by other buildings in St. Petersburg when the decision was made. In the 1920s-30s they did try various colors on sections of the palace.