In the late 1880s Shishkin spent much time painting in the impenetrable Shmetsk forest, near Narva. By October, when the weather became unbearably cold and damp, the artist would move to Krestovsky Island to paint studies of the Neva, often visited the overgrown gardens of the Laval Palace. A comparable sketch of the Laval gardens, also dated autumn 1892, hangs in the State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow (fig.1)
The Laval Palace on St. Petersburg's Angliiskaya naberezhnaya was built according to the designs of Andrei Voronikhin and Thomas de Thomon between 1805 and 1810 on the grounds of the former estate of Alexander Menshikov. The house became a centre for the city's cultural life in the early 19th century through Countess Laval's literary soirées, which were frequented by such illustrious figures as Pushkin, Lermontov and Griboedov.
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