Russia Moscow Architecture Palace Ostankino Palace

Ostankino Palace

The Ostankino Palace at 5 First Ostankino Street in Moscow was built between 1792 and 1799 as a theatre for the performances of the company of serf actors belonging to Count Nikolai Sheremetev. Francesco Camporesi, Ivan Starov and Vincenzo Brenna all contributed to the architectural design. Karl Blank and Yelizvoi Nazarov oversaw the construction work, carried out by Sheremetev’s serf architects Pavel Argunov, Grigory Dikushin and Alexei Mironov, who reworked the plans in accordance with the count’s constantly changing requirements.

The compositional scheme of the ?-shaped palace is typical of Austere Neoclassicism and Russian manorhouses in the last quarter of the eighteenth century. The main block is crowned with a flat cupola and lined with columned porticoes, joined by passageway galleries to two side pavilions – the Italian Pavilion and Egyptian Pavilion (architect Vincenzo Brenna). The layout of the state interiors on the ground and first floors, which adjoin the theatre to the south and west, is also typical of Neoclassicism and subordinated to the enfilade principle. The well-maintained parquet floors are one of the finest aspects of the Ostankino Palace. Their distinguishing features are the refined patterns, which are different in every room, the wealth of colours and the diverse strains of wood.

The first stage of construction (1792–96) was the building of the theatre, the adjoining premises, the Egyptian and Italian Pavilions and the passageway galleries joining them to the main wing. Parquet floors of simple geometric patterns – squares, octagons and diamonds with rosettes or stars inside them – were laid in the palace rooms. The friezes were dominated by meander motifs. Only three or four Russian strains of wood were used – simple and fumed oak, pine and birch. These floors were made by domestic serf masters. Only the parquet floor of the Egyptian Pavilion survives today. The central inlay, imitating an atrium, combines naturally with the general appearance of the interior. The rhythmic alteration of dark and light strains of wood (black and white oak and birch) adds to the refined austerity of the decor.

The following stage of construction (1796–97) was the attachment of an enfilade of state apartments on the first floor (architect Ivan Starov) to the theatre from the south and the construction of a vestibule and grand staircase on the ground floor. The grand box of the theatre was replaced by the Picture Gallery and two Corner Rooms on the first floor and the Engraving Gallery on the ground floor. The ensemble of the Italian Pavilion was completed with a new floor of redwood made in St Petersburg. The central round inlay in this floor was created by Fyodor Pryadchenko after a design by Pavel Argunov. The intricate composition with floral motifs and the refined tones of the parquet floor make it the most elegant interior in the palace.

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