Ballroom of the Lazienki Palace, signed, further titled in Polish on an old label on the stretcher.
Oil on canvas, 70 by 86 cm.
Authenticity of the work has been confirmed by the expert V. Petrov.
In the 1920s, having settled in Warsaw, Stanislav Zhukovsky devoted a whole cycle of notable works to the Lazienki Palace, the renowned residence of the last Polish king Stanislaw August Poniatowski. At this time Zhukovsky was already considered to be one of the most distinguished and popular landscape artists in Russia. He was rightly known as the “bard of the old estates” for his remarkable passion for painting the residences of the landed gentry, their interiors and surrounding gardens.
Ballroom of the Lazienki Palace is one of these grand palace panoramas, a record for posterity of the interior decoration of one of Poland’s most beautiful estates. Built between 1784 and 1788 as a royal residence, it immediately became Warsaw’s most important landmark. In 1795, after another partitioning of the country, Poniatowski abdicated the throne and Lazienki passed to his heirs. In 1817 a niece of the old king sold it to Alexander I for a million zlotys. It remained in the possession of the Russian Imperial family up until the Revolution, serving as a residence for members of the family during their visits to Warsaw.
Nina Moleva describes the interior of the palace thus: “Beyond the glass doors, at your very feet is the mirror-like surface of the water, while in the distance, as if painted on a theatrical back-drop, the green of the trees and the gliding silhouettes of swans. The park comes right into the ballroom, it is scattered in random slivers across the broad mirrors, it widens the room and fractures into streams of light on the intricate cornices, wall panels and ceiling rosettes. It is hard to concentrate on individual details. Sculptures, frescoes, bas-reliefs, the rich tracery of parquet floors, the ceiling mouldings... The austere solemnity of the bust of a Roman emperor, the bright patches of dancing maenads in the pillars, mischievous sculpted cupids bearing the coat of arms above the royal box and the grinning goat-like faces of squatting satyrs juxtaposed with the stately aspect of a statue of Apollo Belvedere.” Situated at the garden end of the ballroom and facing the symmetrically placed statue of the Farnese Hercules at the other end, it is this statue, standing in its niche, which appears in Zhukovsky’s canvas and which still adorns the palace interior today.