Chinese palace It was built in 1762 - 1768 according to the project and under the guidance of a major architect of that time Antonio Rinaldi (1709 - 1794), whose name is associated with the most important period in the creation of the Oranienbaum architectural ensemble. G. Razumovsky (1751), Rinaldi spent many years in Russia, finding here a second homeland.
Chinese palace Along with other valuable architectural monuments of that time, it belongs to the masterpieces of Russian art. The name assigned to it in the 19th century is conditional. The appearance of the building has nothing to do with Chinese architecture. Only some rooms are decorated with freely interpreted Chinese decorative motifs. A large collection of Chinese decorative art and Japanese porcelain were collected in the palace. Partially the collection is preserved.
The palace is a relatively small elongated building, somewhat reminiscent of a summer park pavilion. It is surrounded by a low panel of stone slabs and a decorative cast-iron grille. Two small ground gardens, laid out in front of the southern facade, are included in the overall composition of the building and, according to the architect's plan, are an integral part of it. A similar role is played by huge branchy oaks, specially planted nearby when laying the building: they seem to connect it with an extensive shady park. The middle part of the palace is somewhat overpriced and serves as its compositional center. The facades are treated with pilasters, the calm rhythm of which is emphasized by the smooth planes of the walls. Windows and glazed doors are decorated with stucco frames.
Originally, the Chinese palace was one-story. Only in the middle, overpriced part of it from the southern facade did one or two rooms upstairs that did not have an artistic finish. The superstructure of the second floor above the risalits (ledges) of the southern facade was apparently made by A. I. Shtakenschneider (1802 - 1865) at the very end of the 1840s. In 1850 - 1851, he made an extension to the eastern part of the building with one room (the so-called Big Anticamera), adjacent to the Muses hall. In 1852 - 1853, the architect L. Bonstedt (1822 - 1885) made a similar extension (the Small Anticamera) to the western part of the building - at the Great Chinese Office - and reconstructed the central part of the southern facade closed between the risalits, having arranged a glazed gallery with a balcony over her.
The appearance of the building, a combination of its volumes, proportions and proportions of the individual parts reveal the location of the interior. The difference in the purpose of the latter is emphasized by the features of the architectural solution and decoration of the corresponding sections of the facade. The plan of the palace is distinguished by symmetry and compositional balance. It is characterized by the enfilade system - the location of interiors interconnected along one axis: the center of symmetry is the Great Hall, which has a height of 8.5 meters. Such central ceremonial halls, often called "Italian", play the role of an important organizing link in the planning of palace buildings. On the sides of the hall, along the main axis of the palace, there are living rooms (Blue and Lilac) and cabinets (Bugle and Small Chinese), included in the suite of front rooms. Enfilade ends on the east and west sides by the Hall of Muses and the Greater Chinese Cabinet. The Great Hall adjoins the Great Hall, through which the main entrance was in the 18th century. Next to her is the dressing room. Through the Blue Living Room and the Small Chinese Study, the front enfilade directly connects to the small enfilades of the former "personal" rooms of Catherine II and her son Pavel going perpendicular to her.
The Chinese palace was built during the transitional period in the history of Russian architecture, when architectural and decorative techniques, which were vividly developed in the 40s and 50s of the 18th century, already ceased to meet the new artistic requirements, and soon replaced by another style - classicism - find your completed expression in architecture. The features of this transition period are especially evident in the appearance of the palace facades, where the emphasized decorativeness and ceremonial splendor characteristic of previous buildings give way to the relative simplicity and laconicism of the artistic decoration, which was characteristic of the emerging classicism.
Many talented craftsmen took part in the construction and decoration of the Chinese Palace: marble painters, sculptors, mosaicists, parquet workers, wood carvers, gilders and others. Two large Italian painters - Stefano Torelli (1712 - 1784) and Serafino Barozzi (d. In 1810) - worked to decorate the palace with paintings and murals. Complex architectural and decorative tasks have found a clever solution here thanks to the high professional skill and great artistic culture of builders and decorators.
Unique in artistic value, the palace parquet with a total area of 722 sq. meters are collected from many domestic and "overseas" tree species, including red, pink, black and lemon wood, rosewood, amaranth, boxwood, Persian walnut, oak and others (in some rooms they can be counted up to fifteen). Wooden plates were glued in the form of various patterns on the boards. Small patterns were then cut out or burned out. Each room had its own original parquet pattern, closely linked to the rest of its artistic decoration. Parquet floors are of exceptional value. By design and implementation, they have no equal in our country.
An organic part of the architectural decoration of the interiors of the Chinese Palace is decorative painting. Wall paintings, panels, plafonds occupy an important place in its decoration. It is difficult to overestimate the significance of these unique paintings. The collection of plafonds located here is distinguished by high skill of execution: not one of the surviving Russian palaces has such a collection.
For the decoration of rooms and halls of the palace acquired first-class works of fine and applied art. Most of the canvases painted on canvas were made in Venice by special order by a group of famous painters of the Venice Academy of Arts. The palace collected valuable collections of Russian and Western European porcelain, furniture, as well as Chinese and Japanese art products of the XVIII - XIX centuries.
The interiors created by Rinaldi are closely related to the architecture of the 1730s-1750s in their artistic appearance. The deviation from decorative techniques that prevailed until that time was manifested in them with much less certainty than in the facades. The architect’s work, marked by the features of the transitional period in the development of Russian architecture of the 18th century, did not yet mark a decisive break with the artistic methods of the Baroque masters. But, despite this, the characteristic features of a bright personality were imprinted in his buildings.
After the Great October Socialist Revolution The Chinese palace was turned into a museum and open to the public. Scientifically based restoration and the proper preservation of his artistic wealth became possible. In 1925 - 1933, great work was done to restore decorative painting, including a number of plafonds. This event was very important for the preservation of valuable paintings.
At the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, after the evacuation of the museum’s art collections, the building was mothballed, and over the entire period of the enemy blockade, its condition was monitored. The damage caused to the palace as a result of shelling and bombing of the enemy was relatively small, and immediately after the end of the war, restoration work began in the palace. In 1946 - 1949, valuable shades and other paintings by Italian artists were restored and replaced. Modeling and gilding were restored. In most rooms, high-quality painting of walls and ceilings was made, the artistic set of parquet was strengthened, items of furniture and porcelain were restored. All these activities were carried out at an accelerated pace. A new museum exposition was created. Part of the premises of the palace was put in order and opened for viewing already in 1946. In 1950 - 1951, the facades of the building were restored, the pink coloring of which now corresponds to the original.
Preservation and restoration of historical and artistic monuments are carried out according to scientific and technical methods. Monuments are thoroughly studied not only before restoration, but also in the process of restoration work. At the same time, literature and archival data are studied, detailed engineering and technical documentation is compiled, and the entire process of work is recorded by recordings and photographing. So, in accordance with scientific, technical and artistic requirements, the Chinese Palace Museum was also restored. Attendance of this architectural and artistic monument is increasing from year to year. If in the summer season of 1946 the palace was visited by 15 610 people, then in 1949 the number of visitors increased to 32 700 people, and in 1951 - up to 49 725 people. In 1953, the museum was visited by 63,617 tourists, and in subsequent years - over 70 thousand annually.