The Russian court architect Francesco Rastrelli designed Rundāle Palace for the Duke of Courland, Ernst Johann Biron. Although the palace was built between 1736 and 1740, the interior decorations were finished later, between 1765 and 1768. Duke Peter, son of Duke Ernst Johann, can be considered a serious art collector and part of his collection was also kept in Rundāle Palace. In 1795, after the annexation of the Duchy of Courland by the Russian Empire, the last Duke Peter left Courland and took the furnishings of his palaces to his properties abroad. The interior objects and works of art accumulated during the nineteenth century by later owners of Rundāle Palace were moved to St. Petersburg before World War I.
The Rundāle Palace Museum was founded in 1964 as a branch of the Bauska Museum of Regional Studies and Art. In 1972, it became an independent museum. At the time when the museum was established the premises of the palace were completely empty. The accommodation of the museum in the former summer residence of the Dukes of Courland determined to a certain degree the nature of its collections. The palace interior arrangement is aimed at reflecting the former functional role of the rooms, echoing the tastes of the former owners and creating the best possible collection of fine and decorative arts. The tour will focus on the museum’s collecting history.
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