THE EMPRESS MARIA FEODOROVNA AND THE PALACE OF PAVLOVSK | Thursday 25 May
Michael Carr’s talk examines why the Palace of Pavlovsk represents the apotheosis of Russian Imperial art, design and architecture, and the role of the relatively unknown Empress Maria Feodorovna, wife and then widow of the murdered Tsar Paul I, son of Catherine the Great.
While sumptuous, Pavlovsk was always intended to be a country retreat for the Empress’ family. In creating such a retreat the Empress was no doubt heavily influenced by what she and her husband, then the Grand Duke Paul, saw when they visited Versailles on what was an extended Grand Tour in 1781/82. It was for the couple travelling incognito as the Comte and Comtesse du Nord, that Marie Antoinette gave one of her famous white parties at the Trianon grotto and Belvedere Pavilion. What sets Pavlovsk apart from the other Imperial residences and Palaces in Russia is the artistic integrity and unity that its design and finish represents.
At Pavlovsk rare collections of furniture, artistic textiles and objets d’art are used in decorating the exquisitely furnished interiors, each representing in their execution the finest examples of both the Russian art and crafts of the day. While each room and its decoration was individually designed and finished the end result, under what must have been the guiding hand of the Empress, shows an artistic unity and integrity rarely encountered in Western architecture and design.
The talk will also highlight several items that we are privileged to have in the Roche Collection and which are thought to have been designed for Pavlovsk or are of the same period and quality that is comparable to the Palace collection.
Michael Carr graduated in Arts and Law from the ANU and went on to complete a Master’s Degree in International Law at Cambridge University in 1981, while at Cambridge he also attended the Slade School of Fine Art. In 1993 he opened Olsen Carr Art Dealers with Tim Olsen and from 1999 to 2007, Michael Carr Art. This was followed by CarrVesey, Moscow’s first Western style art consultancy, which operated in 2008. Michael returned to Australia and has since operated as a dealer and consultant with clients both here and overseas. Michael has represented some of Australia’s leading contemporary artists and was one of the first supporters and patrons of Sculpture by the Sea in Sydney. In 2015 Michael brokered the loan to the National Gallery in London of Arthur Streeton’s Blue Pacific, 1895, which became the first Australian painting to hang as part of the NG’s permanent collection. Michael recently spoke as part of the lecture program accompanying the NGA’s Versailles exhibition and is looking forward to speaking in Adelaide for the first time at the Roche Foundation.