Pavilion Hall and Fountains of Tears
From the upper landing proceed through the Field Marshal’s Hall, which has retained its name from earlier times when it was a gallery of portraits of Russia’s field marshals, and along the corridor hung with tapestries, to the Pavilion Hall, designed in 1856 by the architect Andrei Stakenschneider. The Pavilion Hall is part of the Small Hermitage built next door to the Winter Palace by Jean Baptiste de la Mothe between 1764 and 1767. The interior design incorporates elements of Moresque, Renaissance, and Classical architecture.
The graceful columns of white marble support an elegant gallery. The sunlight is reflected through its fenestration onto 28 crystal chandeliers, Note the murmuring sound of the water dripping from the four Fountains of Tears, about which the following legend is told:
One day the Crimea’s cruel Khan Girei summoned his stonemaster Omer and said:
“Make the stones weep to carry my name through the ages!”
However, the craftsman devoted his talent to extol not the harsh potentate but the women whose youth and beauty had faded behind the latticed windows of the Khan’s closely guarded harem.
As the Koran forbids representation of the human figure, Omer resorted to allegory. He hewed a niche into a slab of marble to indicate the depth of suffering felt by the women of the harem and carved a flower at the top and petal-shaped cups. The water trickles out of the flower and into these cups like tears on tender cheeks. At the foot of the fountain, the artist carved a snail, which holds back the water in the basin for a brief while. This symbolic representation of doubt in the power of the Khan intimates that it is not everlasting and will flow away like water.
These fountains are actually exact replicas of the Fountain of Bakhchisarai in the Crimea designed in 1764 by the Persian master Omer.
The mosaic floor, laid between 1847 and 1851, is an imitation, with certain modifications, of the mosaics unearthed in 1780 during the excavation of Emperor Titus’ (79-81 A.D.) baths in Rome.