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Hermitage, St Petersburg
31.5 x 28.5 cm (image)
The Royal Collection
Acquired by the Prince of Wales in 1867, following his visit to Russia on the occasion of the marriage of Tsesarevich Alexander Alexandrovich and Princess Dagmar of Denmark in 1866. RCIN 2700759
Curatorial description (Accessed: 30 July 2019)
View of the so-called 'Small Field Marshals Hall' from the overdoor bas-relief medallions with the portraits of Russian field marshals: Suvorov, Rumyamtsev, Potyomkin, Kutuzov and others. Six large crystal chandeliers hang from the ceiling and paintings line the walls; ceiling paintings are partially visible. The room is also known today as the 'Leonardo da Vinci Room', as it contains two works by the Italian artist, The Benois Madonna and The Litta Madonna.
In 1851 when work began on the New Hermitage, Nicholas I instructed his architect Andrei Stakenschneider to reconstruct and redecorate the first floor of the Old Hermitage built by Quarenghi. In 1864, this suite of rooms was intended for the Tsesarevich Grand Duke Nicholas Alexandrovich upon his marriage to Princess Dagmar of Denmark, sister of Alexandra, Princess of Wales. Following his death in 1865 and the subsequent engagement of Princess Dagmar to his brother, the new Tsesarevich, Grand Duke Alexander Alexandrovich (later Tsar Alexander III), the couple opted for the Anichkov Palace as their residence in St Petersburg and the suite became known as the Seventh Spare (Reserve).
During his first visit to Russia, on the occasion of the marriage of his sister-in-law to the Tsesarevich in 1866, the Prince of Wales was provided with such suite of rooms. Arthur Ellis, a British officer who was part of the prince's entourage, described the apartments as 'a magnificent suite of 12 rooms, filled with pictures by best masters, & beautifully decorated & most comfortable.' Bianchi, the leading architectural photographer in St Petersburg, was later commissioned to photograph the suite and this is one of a series of nine views acquired by the Prince of Wales.