Hover over photos to see captions. Click to enlarge
One of the most elegant interiors of the Catherine Palace waiting to be brought back to life, the Lyons Hall now has a decorative lapis lazuli portal restored.
The southern doorway leading to the former Chinese Hall in the Zubov Wing of the palace is the first of the three portals to regain their spectacular décor of blue and gold.
The extremely costly and time-consuming inlay work, carried out by the restorers of Tsarkskoye Selo Amber Workshop, took seven months, 150 kg of lapis lazuli and a donation of RUB 5,000,000 from TransSoyuz Charitable Foundation (one of our supporters in the Agate Rooms restoration in 2010–13).
Created in 1781–83 and refurbished in 1848–61, the Lyons Hall completely lost its lapis wall finish during the Second World War. Its surviving furnishings include 25 lapis-decorated furniture pieces, as well as the mother-of-pearl incrusted parquets looted by the Nazis and later returned to Tsarskoye Selo after they were found in Berlin in 1947.
The eighteenth-century lapis inlay on the cornice, freeze, lower wall panels, window frames and portals was made from thin plates of Baikal lapis lazuli glued on limestone base using a technique later named Russian Mosaic. The technique was applied for facing large surfaces with thin plates of colour stone, fitted tightly to each other to create the impression of a monolith. A complete recreation of the décor will require at least 3.5 tons of lapis lazuli and a step-by-step plan, which was conceived in 1983 and adjusted in 2006–7.
The accomplished first step of the plan is the restored decorative portal. According to the restores, who have also recreated and installed decorative gilt bronze mounts, the most difficult was making models for those mounts and fitting the lapis plates in the Russian Mosaic technique. The result of their work is amazing.