The Palace of the Tsar Alexey Mikhailovich in Kolomenskoye is a monument of art and every-day life of the last and brightest period of Moscow Tsardom, the period from which modernRussiatakes its roots. This example of a peculiar style that consists in a successful synthesis of pre-Petrine Russian traditions and those ofWestern Europeis noted for a high skill of masters, ornamentality and a deep-toned and rousing artistic polyphony reached by a great variety of techniques and materials applied and creating altogether a joyful and fairy-tale-like atmosphere.
The palace that was referred to by contemporaries as the Eighth Wonder of the Word has survived in the national memory and is mentioned or depicted n numerous documents, memoires, inventories, paintings, plans, drawings and models preserved in Russian and West European archives and museums.
The artistic reconstruction of interiors was based on thorough research of historical sources as well as a wide range of authentic prototypes, the main accent being made on accuracy and reliability of documents. The interior exposition is located in 24 reconstructed chambers of the Tsar’s, Tsarina’s and Tsareviches’ (the Tsar’s sons’) towers. The design of each chamber lies in harmony with its function (gala reception halls, personal chambers).
The interior décor is bright and varied: here you will find intricate carving on architraves and window and door cornices, the glistening enamel of tiled ovens, the twinkling mica and glass windows, colourful polyphony of wall and ceiling paintings and ornamental tissue upholstery of furniture and walls, ornaments on carpets; a bright light comes from unique lanterns reconstructed after Russian and West European authentic prototypes of XVII and XVIII century. All this rich décor turns the Tsar’s chambers into a small world, joyful and somewhat fairy-tale-like and unreal.
The motifs used in interior painting include ornaments, narrative painting and ancient mythological characters. The contents were determined thanks to XVII and XVIII century inventories and descriptions of the court poet Simeon Polotsky who refers the four parts (directions) of the world, the Celestial Zodiac, the seasons and numerous colour. In the texts one can find ancient hoer’s names: Julius Caesar, Alexander of Macedon and his eternal antagonists Darius III ofPersiaand Porus of India (ornaments including the heroes motifs were made in the Study-room of Tsar Alexey Mikhailovich.
On the narrative paintings in Throne chamber of the Tsar’s tower you can see biblical kings David and Solomon (it was not for nothing that Simeon Polotsky compared the palace with “Solomon’s fair chamber”.
Paintings on biblical plots were made after West European engravings (engravings of the well-known Nicolaas Piscator’s Bible served as prototypes for the paintings in the palace). Yet, contemporary artists as well as those working in the XVII century interpreted them adding some national traits.
Like in many palaces of the world, the image of the starry sky with symbols of the Sun and the Moon played a great part in the interior décor. The painting on the Dining chamber ceiling was made after West European authentic prototypes of the XVI and first half of the XVII century. The motif symbolizes the ties between earthly and heavenly power.
In the Tsarina’s Tower you will see paintings related to Four Seasons and the Parables from the Book of Esther that were mentioned in the Kolomenskoye Palace Inventory.
Beside the narrative painting the so-called “herbal painting” with images of birds, beasts and people was widely used to decorate the palace (it can be seen in the Front Hall, Dining chamber, the Tsar’s and the Tsarina’s Throne chambers as well as the lower and upper paces of Front porches).
The interior décor serves is a basis for the expositions that represents a live museum where reconstructed items co-exist with authentic ones coming from the museum collection. In the Cross chamber of the Tsar’s Tower and the Oratory of the Tsarina’s Tower you can see authentic icons and churchware; in the personal chambers of the Tsar and the Tsarina there are tapestries made by French and Flemish masters in the XVII century (Entrance of Alexander the Great into Babylon, Feast at Alcinous and Arete’s Place, and Abraham’s Sacrifice) as well as applied art objects dating back to XVII and XVIII centuries and returned to a genuine context from which they were torn out in a whirlpool of time.