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Painted Interiors: Alexey Tyranov – View of the Big Church of the Winter Palace (1829)

Alexei Tyranov, The View of the Big Church of the Winter Palace (1829)


Eduard Hau, The Grand Church (1860s)

In this 1829 painting the Russian artist Alexei Tyranov depicted the interior of the Grand Church at the Winter Palace (now a part of the State Hermitage Museum) in St. Petersburg. The Church consecrated in the name of the Not-made-by-hand-image-of-our-Saviour is one of the few remaining parts of the original architectural rococo designs by the famous Italian architect Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli. In 1918 the Church was closed for services and has for years served as an exhibition hall within the Hermitage. Sadly, like the Tretyakov Gallery, the Hermitage is engulfed in a dispute with the Russian Orthodox Church over its assumed “property”. With Tretyakov Gallery, the Church was trying to appropriate (expropriate may be a better word?) the world-known icons, including Andrei Rublev’s Holy Trinity. With the Grand Church, it would understandably like to resume religious ceremonies here. The culture officials are accused on spending money on “postmodern” scares, like The Black Rectangle by Malevich instead of devoting the museum space to a “holier” purpose.

Laurits Tuxen, The Wedding of Nicholas II and Alix of Hesse (1895)

Tyranov was known for a nearly photographic quality of his paintings, which is even better seen if we compare the aquarel painting of the same Church by Eduard Hau, executed in 1860s. Interestingly, in 1895 the Grand Church became the place where Nicholas II of Russia wedded Alix of Hesse. The ceremony was again documented in a painting, this time by Laurits Tuxen.

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