Hidden Palace - Netflix

Type: Documentary

Languages: French

Status: Running

Runtime: 8 minutes

Premier: 2007-06-11

Hidden Palace - Winter Palace - Netflix

The Winter Palace (Russian: Зимний дворец, IPA: [ˈzʲimnʲɪj dvɐˈrʲɛts], Zimnij dvorets) in Saint Petersburg, Russia, was, from 1732 to 1917, the official residence of the Russian monarchs. Today, the restored palace forms part of a complex of buildings housing the Hermitage Museum. Situated between the Palace Embankment and the Palace Square, adjacent to the site of Peter the Great's original Winter Palace, the present and fourth Winter Palace was built and altered almost continuously between the late 1730s and 1837, when it was severely damaged by fire and immediately rebuilt. The storming of the palace in 1917 as depicted in Soviet paintings and Eisenstein's 1927 film October became an iconic symbol of the Russian Revolution. The palace was constructed on a monumental scale that was intended to reflect the might and power of Imperial Russia. From the palace, the Tsar ruled over 22,400,000 square kilometers (8,600,000 sq mi) (almost 1/6 of the Earth's landmass) and over 125 million subjects by the end of the 19th century. It was designed by many architects, most notably Bartolomeo Rastrelli, in what came to be known as the Elizabethan Baroque style. The green-and-white palace has the shape of an elongated rectangle, and its principal façade is 215 metres (705 ft) long and 30 m (98 ft) high. The Winter Palace has been calculated to contain 1,786 doors, 1,945 windows, 1,500 rooms and 117 staircases. Following a serious fire, the palace's rebuilding of 1837 left the exterior unchanged, but large parts of the interior were redesigned in a variety of tastes and styles, leading the palace to be described as a “19th-century palace inspired by a model in Rococo style”. In 1905, the Bloody Sunday massacre occurred when demonstrators marched toward the Winter Palace, but by this time the Imperial Family had chosen to live in the more secure and secluded Alexander Palace at Tsarskoe Selo, and returned to the Winter Palace only for formal and state occasions. Following the February Revolution of 1917, the palace was for a short time the seat of the Russian Provisional Government, led by Alexander Kerensky. Later that same year, the palace was stormed by a detachment of Red Army soldiers and sailors—a defining moment in the birth of the Soviet state.

Hidden Palace - Catherine II (1762–1796) - Netflix

It was Empress Elizabeth who selected the German princess, Sophie of Anhalt-Zerbst, as a bride for her nephew and successor, Peter III. The marriage was not a success, but it was this princess who, as Catherine the Great, came to be chiefly associated with the Winter Palace. In 1762, following a coup d'état, in which her husband was murdered, Catherine paraded her seven-year-old son, Paul, on the Winter Palace's balcony to an excited crowd below. She was not presenting her son as the new and rightful ruler of Russia, however; that honour she was usurping herself.

The Empress' life within the Hermitage, surrounded by her art and friends, was simpler than in the adjacent Winter Palace; there, the Empress gave small intimate suppers. Servants were excluded from these suppers and a sign on the wall read “Sit down where you choose, and when you please without it being repeated to you a thousand times.” Catherine was also responsible for introducing the lasting affection for all things French to the Russian court. While she personally disliked France, her distaste did not extend to its culture and manners. French became the language of the court; Russian was relegated for use only when speaking to servants and inferiors. The Russian aristocracy was encouraged to embrace the philosophies of Molière, Racine and Corneille. The Winter Palace was to serve as a model for numerous Russian palaces belonging to Catherine's aristocracy, all of them, like the Winter Palace itself, built by the slave labour of Russian serfs. The sophistication and manners observed inside the Winter Palace were greatly at odds with the grim reality of life outside its externally gilded walls. In 1767, as the Winter Palace grew in richness and splendour, the Empress published an edict extending Russian serfdom. During her reign she further enslaved over a million peasants. Work continued on the Winter Palace right up until the time of the Empress' death in 1796.

The palace's art collection was assembled haphazardly in an eclectic manner, often with an eye to quantity rather than quality. Many of the artworks purchased for the palaces arrived as parts of a job lot as the sovereign acquired whole ready-assembled collections. The Empress' ambassadors in Rome, Paris, Amsterdam and London were instructed to look out for and purchase thousands of priceless works of art on her behalf. Ironically, while Saint Petersburg high society and the extended Romanov family derided Russia's last Empress for furnishing her palaces “mail order” from Maples of London, she was following the practices of Catherine the Great, who, if not exactly by “mail order”, certainly bought “sight unseen.” In this way, between 1764 and 1781 Catherine the Great acquired six major collections: those of Johann Ernst Gotzkowsky; Heinrich von Brühl; Pierre Crozat; Horace Walpole; Sylvestre-Raphael Baudouin; and finally in 1787, the John Lyde-Brown collection. These large assemblies of art included works by such masters as Rembrandt, Rubens, Titian, Raphael, Tiepolo, van Dyck and Reni. The acquisition of 225 paintings forming the Gotzkowsky collection was a source of personal pride to Catherine. It had been put together by Gotzkowsky for Catherine's adversary, Frederick the Great of Prussia who, as a result of his wars with Russia, could not afford to pay for it. This collection included some great Flemish and Dutch works, most notably Frans Hals' “Portrait of a Young Man with a Glove.” In 1769, the Bruhl collection brought to the Winter Palace two further works by Rembrandt, Portrait of a Scholar and Portrait of an Old Man in Red. While some aspects of this manic collecting could have been a manifestation of Catherine's desire for a recognition of her intellectual concepts, there was also a more fundamental motivation: necessity. Just twenty years earlier, so scarce were the furnishings of the Imperial palaces that bedsteads, mirrors, tables and chairs had to be conveyed between Moscow and Saint Petersburg each time the court moved. As the palace filled with art, it overflowed into the Hermitage. So large did Catherine's art collection eventually become that it became necessary to commission the German-trained architect Yury Velten to build a second and larger extension to the palace, which eventually became known as the Old Hermitage (15). Later, Catherine commissioned a third extension, the Hermitage Theatre, designed by Giacomo Quarenghi. This construction necessitated the demolition of Peter the Great's by now crumbling third Winter palace.

Hidden Palace - References - Netflix