New Entrance to the Hermitage Winter Palace Courtyard and Garden
On 27 May, 2003, the Winter Palace Courtyard and the New Entrance to
the Hermitage from Palace Square were opened after restoration.
After the 2nd World War, three sculptures were brought to the garden: Amphitrite after an original by the 18th century French artist Michel Anguie, Venus of Medici, possibly created in the 19th century after an antique origina, and the bronze statue of Archer, variant of one of the most popular works by the prominent Hungarian sculptor Zsigmond Kisfaludy-Strobl (1884-1975), created in 1918 under the influence of Heracles (1909) of the famous French master E.-A. Bourdel.
The idea of the main entrance to the museum from Palace Square through the Winter Palace Courtyard was first voiced in 1994. In 1994, 1997 and 1999, the Hermitage Department of Architecture History and Restoration (Senior Architect V.P. Lukin) made reports on the Courtyard condition. In 1999, dying trees were removed and bushes were trimmed. The project of the Main Entrance reconstruction and restoration was ready in 2000, including works at the Winter Palace gate, courtyard and garden. The reconstruction project for the Courtyard which took into account this area’s new functions was prepared by Danish architect Professor Sven-Ingvar Andersson, landscaping specialist.
The Courtyard restoration project, based on a thorough examination of historical documents and the new functions, has been developed in accordance with the recommendations of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS).
According to the project, the basic function of the Winter Palace Courtyard is both to provide a convenient passage from the Palace Square gate to the new entrance at the opposite (northern) courtyard side and serve as a venue for concerts and performances for an audience of up to 5 thousand.
The Courtyard level has been lowered, two flagstone-paved pathways have been made, and rainwater ducts were paved with cobble-stones. The area between the granite curb and flagstone pathways is paved with cobble-stones, between the granite pathways and the facades, with cobble-stones; the surface between the facades and the rainwater ducts is slightly inclined; the areas between the main entrance and the granite pathways are coated with smaller granite plates. Contours of the foundations of the palaces which stood there in the past can now be seen in the Winter Palace Courtyard.
The garden in the courtyard center has been reconstructed according to the 1885 design of architect N.A. Gornostayev, but at a lower level. Six lamps stand on granite foundations on either side of the garden. Works in the garden were performed by OOO Klyuch and supervised by T.S. Bogdanova of the Hermitage Department of Architecture History and Restoration.
The reconstruction of the Winter Palace Courtyard was sponsored by DANSEE representing the Danish Ministry of Environment and Power. The Danish contribution to this project is Denmark’s official gift to the Hermitage for the Jubilee of St. Petersburg. Manager of the project was Ye.A. Obolentseva of the Hermitage Construction Department.
The garden with the fountain in the Winter Palace Courtyard was restored by the Hermitage jointly with the Danish company NIRAS.
The Main Entrance to the Winter Palace regained its historical appearance, after the lost elements of decoration were restored. Models for the gilt eagles topping the gate were made by sculptor S.G. Lebedeva. The recreated palm and laurel branches, crowns and other elements were designed by V.V. Yefimov, Deputy Senior Architect of the Hermitage. The gate was restored by ZAO Sobor.
Memorial PlaquePlaque commemorating Empress Maria Fedorovna (nee Danish Princess Dagmar) has been inaugurated in a special showcase in the Winter Palace Courtyard. The Empress who was accustomed to less officialism may have initiated the creation of a garden in the palace courtyard. The memorial plaque bears the inscription “The Garden in the Winter Palace Courtyard Laid out on 4 August, 1885, in the Reign of EMPEROR ALEXANDER III.”