Monday, 5 December 2016
Unwanted Guests (Creepy-Crawlies) in Empress Marie’s Dressing Room
After arriving in St. Petersburg from Darmstadt in the fall of 1840 for her marriage to Alexander II, Marie Alexandrovna lived, during the months of her engagement, on the 1st floor of the Winter Palace in rooms facing the Neva to the right of Nicholas I’s daughters
Prior to the wedding in April 1841, the architect Briullov reconstructed her apartment on the 2nd floor in the southwestern corner. Briullov decorated the dressing room all in pink; draped walls in pink fabric, curtains, upholstery, bed covers. The door on the left of Marie’s dressing room led to Alexander’s library and on the right to her bathroom and bedroom.
When the chamber maids were transferring Marie’s clothes to the closets and cabinets in the new dressing room on the wedding day, Earl Kleinmikhel ‘rushed in to inform them that the bugs [creepy-crawlies] were brought in by workmen, who were hired to finish the project in time, and palace staff were now treating the infestation’.
In 1845, Briullov redecorated the dressing room in light purple using silk damask on the walls. He added the frieze along the top of the walls that incorporated Drollinger’s paintings of Peterhof, i.e. the Farm Palace, Gothic Chapel, etc., that are still to be seen today.
In the 1850’s, the room again was changed to the blue seen below in Premazzi’s 1857 watercolor. A small door hidden behind the screen on the right led to the staircase to the 1st floor children’s nurseries.
Photograph (below) of Empress Marie’s desk in the Dressing Room c1860s
Photographs (below) of the Hermitage’s beautiful restoration of the Dressing Room (note the magnificent ceiling/frieze)