printperson (printperson) wrote,

trip to Russia, part 5

We made an afternoon excursion to Tsarskoye Selo (palace of the empresses Catherine, Elizabeth and Catherine the Great), south of Saint Petersburg. The palace is sky blue, with white columns and gilding. Extraordinary palatial rooms, including the famous Amber Room. Once the Russian emperors decided to become Europeans, they seem to have poured all their resources into outdoing everything their contemporaries were building in Paris, Vienna, Munich and Rome. The whole Tsarskoye Selo (Tsar's Village) palace had been stripped before and during WW II, so it is really an extraordinary re-creation or restoration ("com' era. dov'era") of this gilded rococo fantasy. We had to put on little lightweight blue shoe covers to walk through the palace.

My drawings in the palace are 1-minute drawings or less, mostly done as I was walking. I added the watercolor later.

The last day in Saint Petersburg we were entirely on our own. After a visit to the State Ethonographic Museum (but I did not draw there), we went to see the cathedral of Saint Isaac. Saint Isaac is, more than anything, a statement of the Russian imperial state's power and wealth. Size, quantity and quality of materials surpass just about every other 19th century building of this type that I have seen. During the soviet era, the church was turned into an anti-religious museum. My drawing is just the smallest indication of what is there. Gilding everywhere, and malachite and lapis columns on the iconostasis. Drawing was extremely challenging there due to the huge number of tour groups. I've never seen a church with an ATM in it before.
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