The Crimson and Green Pilaster Rooms
When decorating the halls of the Great Palace of Tsarskoye Selo (the Catherine Palace) Rastrelli strove to make the interiors as varied as possible. In finishing the adjoining Crimson and Green Pilaster Rooms the architect made use of some materials that were original for the time: on the walls lined with white damask he placed pilasters containing clear glass backed by red or green metallic foil, hence the names of the two rooms.
In the Crimson Pilaster Room visitors’ attention is drawn by the stove whose tiles are decorated with little scenes featuring personages in eighteenth-century costume and by the ceiling painting of The Clemency of Alexander the Great by an unknown late-seventeenth-century Italian artist. Up until the war the ceiling featured a composition by Luca Giordano (1632–1705): A Youth Lifted by Mercury Who is Addressing Minerva as She Stands on Clouds. In the centre of the room is a card-table and on it a unique eighteenth-century Chinese-made chess set with a board inlaid with mother-of-pearl and carved ivory figures. The room also contains a secretaire made by the German master craftsman Abraham Roentgen (1711–1793) – a rare example of inlaid furniture in the feathery Rococo style typical of the products of his celebrated workshop from 1765 into the 1770s.
Under Catherine II the Green Pilaster Room served as a pantry for the storage of table silver and porcelain and for that reason part of it was separated off by a screen made in the Gothic style in the 1770s. When the hall was being restored after its destruction during the Second World War it was decided not to recreate the partition and to give the Green Pilaster Room back the appearance conceived by Rastrelli. The ceiling of this room was at one time adorned by a painting entitled A Resting Military Commander Harkens to the Call of the Muses created by the eighteenth-century Italian artist Luvici Torelli. Now its place is occupied by a composition on the same subject created by the artist Valery Lednev on the basis of pre-war photographs.