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The Marble Palace

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The Marble Palace

The Marble Palace is an outstanding sample of early Neoclassicism in Russia. Built to the design of the architect Antonio Rinaldi between 1768 and 1785, the palace was commissioned by Catherine II. The architect was the first in Russia to extensively use granite and various types of marble for decoration of facades and interiors of the palace. Thus later the palace got the name of the Marble Palace.

First the palace was built as a present for Count Grigory Orlov, the favorite of Catherine II. However, Grigory Orlov had died before the construction was completed. After his death the palace was a residence of Grand Dukes. The most thorough reconstruction work connected with the name of Alexander Brullov lasted from 1848 to 1851. The architect chose to preserve the external facade of the palace, whilst redecorating the interiors of the state halls of the Marble Palace in the Gothic, late Renaissance, Rococo and Classical styles.

One of the Marble Palace latest owners was Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich. The memorial museumof this recognised poet of the Silver Age (who published his own verses under the cryptonym K. R. - Konstantin Romanov) is located on the ground floor of the palace in the former chambers of the Grand Duke and in the original interiors of that time.

From 1919 to 1936 the palace was awarded to the Russian Academy for the History of Material Culture. In 1937 a branch of the Central Lenin Museum was opened in the halls of the Marble Palace. This new use led to the loss of the décor in the halls on the first floor. The Main Staircase and the Marble Room mainly preserved Rinaldi’s original interiors.

A new stage in the life of the Marble Palace began in 1992, when the building was awarded to the Russian Museum. In 1994 the equestrian statue of Alexander III was placed in front of the palace. The sculptor of the statue was Paolo Trubetskoi.

In 1995 the Ludwig Museum in the Russian Museum permanent exhibition was opened in the Marble Palace. It was donated by the famous German collectors Peter and Irene Ludwig and displays works by European, Russian and American artists. The Ludwig Museum in the Russian Museum is the only permanent exhibition of art of the late 20th century that enables to trace the development of Russian art in the context of world art culture.

In 2001 the Rzhevsky Brothers Collection permanent exhibition, a gift to the State Russian Museum, was opened in the Marble Palace.

The Project “The Russian Museum: the Virtual Branch”
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