Nikolay Durasov’s Palace (Liublino)

The early XIX century Liublino ensemble that has by a miracle survived till our days occupies a peculiar place in the Russian cultural and historical legacy.

The estate’s manor house, known as the palace, is the dominant of the entire ensemble: it is situated asymmetrically in relation to other buildings, standing on a high hill above the pond and surrounded by a picturesque park.

The Liublino ensemble was created at the beginning of the XIX century by well-known Moscow architects Rodion Kazakov and Ivan Yegotov. The interior chambers were decorated by a popular Italian painter of the time – Domenico Scotti and a serf master Luka.

The masters worked following the original conception of the estate’s new owner, Nikolay Durasov, who saw his new home as a Temple of Arts dedicated to Apollo, the Greek god of the Sun, arts and science.

The palace is a three-storeyed centrally-planned building of the pavillion type surmounted with a dome. A combination of the cross and the circle in its plan is an unusual solution symbolizing the fullness of being – earthly and heavenly perfection. One can walk around the palace only clockwise, following the daily course of the Sun.

This planning ascends to projects by Italian architect Andrea Palladio and his XVIII century French counterpart Jean-François Neufforges. Some researchers think that the Liublino Palace might have been inspired by The Salon of Apollo, a project created at the beginning of the XVIII century by a Swedish architect Nicodemus Tessin the Younger for the Versailles park. A marble statue of Apollo (greatly damaged in 1904 during a storm) used to surmount the dome of the Palace.

The solar symbolism and classic mythology motifs guided the entire design of the palace gala halls. The central Round Hall, two-stories high, is a gala dining chamber flooded with sunlight in the morning. The plafond of the hall is decorated with a panel picture combining two classic  plots –  The Toilette of Venus and the goddess’ Triumph. The walls of the dining chamber, as well as of the other halls of the palace, are covered with grisaille painting that creates three-dimensional effect on the flat surface and makes one see elements such as bas-reliefs, Corinthian columns, multifigured frieze along the perimeter of the chamber, and round medallions. The bas-reliefs of the Round Hall depict famous mythological plots such as Apollo and the Muses’, ‘Sacrifice’, ‘Apollo-Phoebus Ascending in a Chariot and Worship of Cupid’.

The Marble Hall was intended for balls, and every detail of its décor reminds of a joyful sunny day, dance, music, poetry, and love. The walls of the hall are decorated in stucco technique with artificial marble of different shades of yellowish pink or light green.

In the Marble Hall there are numerous bas-reliefs representing Olympic gods and heroes. Over the entrance you can see a bas-relief representing ‘Worship of Cupid’ and opposite it – ‘Three Dancing Graces’.

On the corner round wall bas-reliefs located opposite each other you can see allegories of autumn, winter, spring, and summer. Other medallions show famous antique plots such as ‘Orpheus and Calliope’, ‘Apollo and Orpheus’, Venus and Adonis’, ‘Diana and Endymion’, Ganymede Nourishing Zeus in the form of an Eagle’, Cupid Stung by a Bee’.

In the north-western wing of the palace (opposite the entrance to the Round Hall) there is the Column Hall that served as a drawing chamber at evenings. The hall is also known as Pink thanks to the pink-silver shades of the walls and columns faced with artificial marble. The ceiling of the Pink hall imitates the evening sky in fine weather and is reflected on the hall parquet floor.

Over the cornices you can see four panel pictures – allegories of constellations based on antique mythological plots: ‘Diana and Actaeon’, ‘Bacchus and Ariadne’, ‘The Trial of Nymph Callisto’ and ‘The Triumph of Bachhus and Ariadne on the Island of Naxos’.

The richness and magnificence of the interiors contrast with the laconic design of the façades. All the four façades are identical and the technique applied to elaborate them was rather plain.  Longitudinal walls have a smooth surface; the windows and the wall surface proper are very well proportioned. Side walls of the wings are emphasized with triple windows decorated with pilasters and bas-reliefs on the top.

After Nikolay Durasov’s death (1818) none of the subsequent owners of the estate brought changes into the palace exterior or interior. Soon after the October Revolution of 1917 Nikolay Durasov’s palace came under jurisdiction of third-party organizations. As a result the palace and its interiors were gradually ruined.

In 1999-2004, restoration works were undertaken in the palace which helped to return the building to its original appearance.

In 2012, the artistic painting on the ceiling and walls of the belvedere that crowns the building and has four small adjoined premises with huge semicircular windows was reconstructed.

Nowadays, you can see the palatial manor house in its full splendour as it used to be 200 years ago.

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