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Kadriorg Palace

The Kadriorg palace and park were founded by the Russian Tsar Peter I. According to the designs of the architect Niccolo Michetti, invited from Rome, the palace was built after the Italian villas, consisting of a main building and of two annexes. The well-preserved main hall is one of the best examples of Baroque architecture not only in Estonia but also in the whole Northern Europe. Besides Russian and Italian artists, masters from Stockholm, Riga and Tallinn took part in its building work. The two-storied hall is decorated with rich stucco work and ceiling paintings.
The vestibule and some other rooms in the main building, as well as some of the stoves have retained their 18th-century appearance.
The park was named Kadriorg (Catherine’s Valley) after the empress Catherine I. Most of the Russian rulers, from Peter’s daughter Elizabeth, to the last Romanov emperor Nicholas II, have visited this imperial summer residence.
From 1921 the Estonian Museum in Tallinn was situated in the palace. In 1928 it was reorganized into the Art Museum of Estonia.
From 1929 the palace served as the residence of the Estonian head of state (from 1938 president). The building was renovated in 1933-34. The banqueting hall after the design of the architect Aleksander Vladovsky was constructed at the back of the palace. Some rooms were refurnished in Estonian national romantic style after the designs of the architect Olev Siinmaa. From 1946 until 1991 the palace housed the main building of the Art Museum of Estonia. Due to the deterioration of the building, large restoration works were started. The government of Sweden supported the works that lasted over 9 years, with 21 million Swedish kronor.
On July 22, 2000 the Foreign Art Museum, branch of the Art Museum of Estonia, was opened in the renovated palace. Besides exhibitions, concerts, theatre performances and receptions, as well as lectures, tours and introductions of art works take place in the museum.
The collection contains over more than 900 Western European and Russian paintings from 16th to 20th centuries, about 3,500 prints, over 3,000 sculptures and gems, and about 1,600 decorative arts objects (historic furniture, porcelain, glass etc.).
About 100 paintings attributed to the 16th-18th century masters from the Netherlands school form the most valuable part of the collection. Among them are the works of art by Pieter Breughel the Younger and Frans Pourbus the Younger. There are some examples of German panel painting from the 16th-18th centuries. Angelica Kauffmann who in 1760s-1770s worked in London, is the representative of German late Rococo. Italian art is illustrated mostly by 17th-century masters like Bernardo Strozzi and Francesco Trevisani.
An important part of the collection belongs to the Russian portrait painting from the 18th-19th centuries, represented by such masters like Dmitri Levitsky, Vladimir Borovikovsky, Vasily Tropinin, and Giovanni Battista Lampi who worked in Russia in the 18th century. The representatives of Russian academic realist painting from the second half of the 19th century are Ivan Shishkin, Ivan Aivazovsky, Ilya Repin. The works by Abram Arkhipov, Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin, Konstantin Korovin are examples of Russian Modernism from the first decades of the 20th century.
The museum has also a small collection of Finnish painting from the beginning of the 20th century. The works by Alvar Cawen, Tyko Sallinen and Vaino Kunnas could be of interest as examples of Nordic painting culture.