Restoration of the Hermitage Theatre Foyer and the Parquet in the White Hall of the Winter Palace
19 May 2008, in preparation for International Museum Day following repairs and restoration the White Hall of the Winter Palace and the Foyer of the Hermitage Theatre have been opened to the public.
Hermitage Theatre Foyer
The foyer is located in the passage (designed by architect Velten Y.M. (Georg Friedrich) in the 1780s) above the Winter Kanavka going across from the building of the Old Hermitage to the Hermitage Theatre. At the very dawn of the 20th century, the architect L.N. Benois created a new artistic interpretation in the style of the neo-rococo. From then on the hall has not undergone any full scale renovation work. Moreover the rafting system, the multiple storied ceilings, engineering systems and artistic decorations all needed repairs and restoration work.
The plans for the restoration work were carried out by the Department for History and Restoration for Architectural Monuments at the State Hermitage Museum and authorized by the Committee for the Preservation of Cultural and Historical Monuments for St. Petersburg. The plans served as the basis for the restoration work which was undertaken in January- May 2008 to repair the rafting system, the camp ceiling with the transfer of the weight to new metal constructions, engineering systems have been replaced and the artistic decor of the hall has undergone restoration.
Thanks to the methods used for the restorations it has been possible to preserve entirely the historical wooden ceiling, genuine plasterwork and modeling of the plafond and walls, the window and door fittings, made from non ferrous metals and gilt using galvanizing techniques; the faceted glass windows and also the old gilding of the decorative details were strictly within the limits of the expenses.
On the ceiling there are modern version of the plafonds created by the Italian artist of the 17th century Luka Giordano The Judgment of Paris, The Rape of Europa, The Triumph of Galatea. The original canvases by L.Giordano following restoration were transferred to the department of Western European Fine Art, and a portrait of a series and picture by the 18th century French painter Hubert Rodert were returned to their places on the foyer walls.
The restoration was undertaken under the direction of specialists from the Department of History and Restoration for Architectural Monuments, the technical oversight was carried out by members of the Engineering Service of the State Hermitage Museum, the main contractor was Beta Com Ltd.
Parquet in the White Hall of the Winter Palace
The parquet in the White Hall of the Winter Palace (architect A. P. Brullov) was created following the fire of 1837, which destroyed the interior decorations of the Winter Palace. The floor was originally laid with squares of oak with a central rosette, made up of components bearing a floral character using expensive woods - rosewood, pink, black, red woods, amaranth, maple, sandalwood, birch, box tree, plane tree, pear, walnut, oak and palms. For a single square metre in the hall which has a total area of 384 square metres, there can be up to two thousand details.
The restoration of the parquet was carried out over four months. The main focus of attention were the repairs of the main background, the black floor (the tiles made from pine and laid on log) – its level of preservation depends largely on the preservation of the parquet itself. With the conclusion of work on the black floor, work commenced on filling in the details of the parquet. The details which did not require restoration were adorned and puttied using the appropriate types of putties for the woods involved, which had been specially toned in the lacquer for all of the visible defects in the woodworking. The parquets has been protected with layers of water based lacquers which do not have any negative consequences on the museum exponents.
Parquet Holl was the company involved in restoring the parquet in the White Hall, supervision of the work was carried out by the Chief Mechanic’s Office of the State Hermitage Museum.