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The Jewel in the Crown of Neoclassicism
By Stephen G. Glazer
Any potential buyer would be well advised to ignore the other review, which denied me the pleasures of this two-volume set for too long. While intended for the connoisseur or scholar, it has plenty of eye candy for the aficionado of glossy picture books and shelter magazines. Pavlovsk is the jewel in the crown of neoclassicism. Roughly contemporaneous with Monticello, it reveals Jefferson as a semi-talented, rustic amateur. By contrast, the buildings and park of Pavlovsk were designed by Charles Cameron, perhaps the greatest architect of the period. Pavlovsk's owner, the Empress Maria Fyodorovna, combined unlimited resources with exquisite taste and real talent as an artisan. The results are admirably documented in this two-volume set. Outdoors, vistas to delight from every vantage point; inside, one ravishing interior after the other, all filled with furniture, art and objects of the finest quality and often great historical interest. Best of all, the set captures the unique spirit of Pavlovsk. Opulent enough for a royal residence, the palace was nevertheless built on a sufficiently modest scale that even the twenty-first century reader can imagine himself or herself living happily ever after in its rooms and green spaces. A must for the library of any serious student of the decorative arts and architecture of the eighteenth century.