Dear reader, mentally we walked together along the main St.Petersburg thoroughfares which remain so up till now. We strolled up and down Nevsky and Kamennoostrovsky Prospekts, Great and Little Naval Streets. We have seen lots of magnificent edifices there. Yet larger in number are splendid buildings scattered about other parts of the city, in its less attractive and not so well known streets. In order to draw attention to them we will describe only some of universally acknowledged stone masterpieces of different ages.
The building is the private residence of Z.I.Yusupova in Liteiny (Foundry) Prospekt, N 42. This previously luxurious palace of the Countess Zinaida Ivanovna de Shavo born Naryshkina, Princess Yusupova in the first marriage, stands out from the neighboring buildings even now. Its two inner courtyards and terraces in them, winter garden, and a number of halls, reception- , drawing- and living-rooms are very elegant and artistic. In 1859 the periodical “Architectural bulletin” wrote about the house as of “almost the only private construction in St.Petersburg built of stone”. This two-storey edifice erected in 1852-1853 to the project and under the supervision of the architect L.A.Bonstedt manifests a whole range of Baroque artistic devices (at first, the project was composed by G.A.Bosse). It has only five windows, but is richly decorated with columns, sculpture, ornaments and vases.
The facade of the mansion is clad with big blocks of light-grey sandstone from Bremen worked up in different manners, so both smooth and wavy factures can be seen here. The facing of the ground floor is made of slabs ranging in thickness from 18 to 36 cm. In order the walls of bricks could bear the burden of those slabs a “certain period of time for complete subsidence of the edifice” was appointed. All works on the facing were executed in the well-known workshop of P.Triscorni and their cost had come to 25 000 silver roubles.
Four hermaes supporting a balcony above a pompous entrance, ten caryatids standing near the windows of the first floor and other statues had been carved of particularly large blocks of the sandstone by the sculptor Deneys. It was written in the above-cited journal: “The manner of carving of the figures and caryatids and their shapes manifest Yusupova’s own taste that is not entirely consistent with artistic views and desires of the architect von Bonstedt”.
As the mansion was being put up at the beginning of the Crimean War, the delivery of the sandstone from Bremen was partly delayed and details of lesser importance were performed of Gatchina and Revel Sandstones having yellowish colouration, cavernous structure and containing much admixed lime.
The decoration of the palace interior was completed later – in 1858-1859. It likewise was characterized by the splendour of Baroque. The former grandeur of the interiors can be seen only in water-colours of V.A.Sadovnikov being kept in the Russian museum. Magnificent carved doors lead to the hall and main marble staircase. Walls of the hall are embellished with figured moulding, columns covered with flutes and pilasters of white marble. Steps of the staircase, fretted banisters and vases adorning them are made of the same marble. This stone seems to be a variety of Carrara Marble assigned to a so called Ordinario (Ordinary) sort. It is mottled with grey spots and lined with veinlets on account of which the general colour proves to be greyish-white. But somewhat spotty colour scheme of the marble is not very obvious because of its lustre as the columns, pilasters and banisters are perfectly polished. So, the main stone staircase with elegant cast-iron banisters and mirrors is very impressive.
Almost all premises of the palace had lost their beauty. However a remarkable chim-ney-piece made of malachite is well preserved in one of the former drawing-room. It has a quaint baroque form. The decoration with malachite was performed in a manner of Russian mosaic: plates of stone 0.3-0.5 cm thick were chosen to match colours and patterns and put on a framework with a special mastic what produced an impression of a monolith rock. As it usually is, the malachite is coupled with gilded bronze. Fixed over the chimney-piece is the mirror set in a gilt, intricately-shaped frame.
At present this splendid at one time mansion has become dilapidated, the walls and sculpture are very dirty, the distinction in colour between the Revel and Bremen Sandstones came into particular prominence and, in addition, posters of the Society (League) “Knowledge” hanging under the windows of the ground floor do not suit the edifice architecture at all. The interiors of the mansion have lost their former grandeur as well.
MANSION of HER SERENE HIGHNESS PRINCESS E.M. YURIEVSKAYA
The address is Gagarinskaya Street, N 3. At a glance this rather low edifice standing in a quiet street does not differ from surrounding faded and neglected buildings whereas it may rival the most famous stone masterpieces of St.Peters-burg in its exquisite stone decoration.
Its face, as we see it today, had not come into existence immediately. In the 1840-s the architect G.A.Bosse put up a mansion on that plot for the Count N.A.Kushelev-Bezborodko. The house changed hands later. It proved to be in the possession of E.M.Dolgorukaya – the future Her Serene Highness Princess Yurievskaya, morganatic wife of Alexander II. During the reconstruction by the architect E.Ya.Schmidt in 1857-1862 it acquired features of an Italian palazzo in Renaissance style.
The facade of the mansion is all over clad with smart Karelian Marbles that are Ruskealsky of two kinds and Tivdian. The high socle that is considerably darker than the main part of the edifice is faced with rusticated slabs of the patterned grey-green Ruskeala Marble.
Another variety of Ruskeala Marble characterized by the more restful, soothing light-grey colouration was used for facing of the first and second floors. This marble covers the walls almost overall, only pilasters dividing the facade are made of the deli-cate-rosy Tivdiya Marble. The windows arranged in pairs in the semicircular arches of the first floor and in the rectangular frames of the upper one are decorated with the rosy Tivdiya Marble. The bases of the pilasters, cornices extending along the facade and balustrade of the terraces of the second floor are hewn from the white marble.
Capitals of the pilasters, germae separating windows of the upper storey, masks in the shape of lion’s heads, as well as the posts of two porches symmetrical about the centre of the edifice are cast in iron. And on both sides of the porches there are low round pedestals cut from black gabbro-diabase that at one time served probably as bases for lanterns the remains of which are represented now only by metallic staves.
It seems likely that in the past this richly decorated mansion offered the delightful and remarkable combination of colours: green-grey, grey and rosy accentuated with black cast-iron ornaments. Unfortunately, today the edifice has faded and became dilapidated. The once grey Ruskeala and rosy Tivdiya Marbles have turned almost monotonous in their colouration. The rocks have lost their polish and are covered with a film of gypsum and dust. The balustrade enclosing the open terraces on the side wings of the building is half-ruined. The posts at the porches and the entrances themselves have proved to be situated lower than the pavement level. The house has gone into the state of disrepair that gives convincing evidence of negligence. So, it is in need of highly professional restoration.
MUSEUM of A.L.STIEGLITZ
The museum is situated in Solianoi (Salt) lane, N 15. In 1879 the wealthy financier, Court’s banker and patron of art Baron A.L.von Stieglitz assigned several million roubles to establish the School of Technical Drawing and the Museum attached to it. The edifice housing the School (Solianoi lane, N 13) was erected to the project of the architects A.I.Krakau and R.A.Gedike in 1879-1881, but being constructed of bricks and plastered, it is not discussed in this book. The first Director and Designer of the Museum was M.E.Messmacher – a prominent St.Petersburg architect, excellent connoisseur of various styles of the art, first-rate graphic artist and founder of the Russian school of technical drawing. In our city he put up grand-ducal palaces, churches, mansions for nobility. In the 1880-s he supervised the restoration of St. Issac’s Cathedral, in particular, he dealt with a problem of lining up of the columns bearing unequal loads. But the most significant deed of his life was the organization of the School of Technical Drawing and building of the Museum that took ten years (1885-1895).
Polish sandstone in decoration of the facade of the Museum of the former Central School of Technical Drawing of Baron L.von Stieglitz had proved to be an excellent material for carving chisel.
The Museum comprises a stately edifice built in the style of Italian palaces of the XVI-th century. The low socle is made of large blocks of dark-pink rapakivi-granite, the walls are faced with light-grey Radom Sandstone. The ground floor is decorated with rusticated rocky slabs alternating ones smoothly finished. The doors and huge windows are provided with carved garlands of laurel leaves. The upper storey is clad with sandstone slabs having smooth surfaces, the windows combined in pairs are adorned with three-quarter columns.
The central risalita of the facade is topped with a triangular pediment the tympanum of which carries a high-relief depicting allegories of Painting, Sculpture, Architecture, (Decorative-) Applied Art and History of Art. The main figure of this composition is a Man-Creator. It bears the portrait-similarities to M.E.Messmacher. The pediment is crowned with the sculptural group “Glory” by A.G.Bauman. Standing in niches of the side risolites are statues of a woman with a book and a man holding a large hammer created by A.G.Chizov. The innate teacher M.E.Messmacher had used the artistically decorated and stylized facade of the building for teaching purposes. The frieze of the museum is decorated with high-relief depictions of gryphons, and with roundels inside of which portraits of great artists, sculptors, architects are carved, their names being inscribed on the figured slabs. They are written with gold against a blue mosaic background.
Tall cast-iron lanterns adorned with Cupids holding attributes of different arts are standing in front of the main entrance. Massive oaken doors finished with forged bronze lead to the vestibule of the museum. This magnificent room with polished columns made of patterned red rapakivigranite is embellished with polychromatic frescos. Halls of the museum reproduced styles of various epochs in the history of Art. There are Flemish Hall, Halls of Medici, Henry II, Lois XIV and others. Very picturesque in Russian manner is the hall “Teremok” (Old Russian house) ornamented with coloured tiles and wall-paint-ing.
The carving in sandstone (facade of the Museum of Stieglitz).
Especially impressive is the main exhibition hall. It is a two-storey vast room that occupies 1196 m2 of floor space and is spanned by a glass dome of corresponding size.
An one-headed eagle is a rare image in the city sculpture. The facade of the Museum of Stieglitz, is adorned with such an eagle cut out in sandstone.
Two semi-circular flights of staircase made of greyish-yel-low marble lead up to a gallery on the second floor of this hall. The statue of Baron Stieglitz by the sculptor M.M.Antokolsky stood on a landing of the staircase (later on it was replaced by a figure of V.I.Lenin). Remarkable works of applied arts were exposed in the gallery, rich carpets hung down its railing.
The building and decoration of the museum had come to 30 000 roubles. A part of works on ornamentation of the halls was carried out by students under the supervision of M.F.Messmacher and his nearest assistants - in such a way pupils were comprehending methods of craftsmanship. The edifice had been erected and decorated at the highest technical and artistic level. The collection comprised 15 000 valuable items of applied arts. After the October Revolution a part of them was transferred to the Hermitage, but some subjects were irrevocably lost.
The school itself existed not long after and the building of the museum was not used for its proper purpose. Its wonderful interior decoration had gradually grown decayed and destroyed to considerable extent . Now the building houses the St.Petersburg Higher School (Academy) of Arts and Industrial Design named after V.I.Mukhina. The facades of the Museum have remained in the excellent state, while the interiors are renovated little by little, strange though it may seem, today’s students do not participate in this work.
M.F.KSHESINSKAYA’s MANSION (Kronwerksky Prospekt, N 1)
The well-known mansion of the prima-dancer of the former Imperial Mariinsky Theatre M.F.Kshesinskaya is the remarkable sample of Modern style in architecture. Built in 1906 after the project of A.I.Gogen the edifice having an intricate asymmetrical silhouette produces an impression of a monumental and smart construction. Its facades are faced with granites of different colours and light facing bricks.
Two kinds of red granite are used for the socle part of the mansion. The very bottom of it is clad with Finnish rapakivi-granite. Above it, the out-of-the-common “frieze” more than one metre high runs along the facade. It is the original border, or selvage made of large, angular, roughly broken blocks of Valaam Granite (deposit Syyskuujansaari). The colour of these blocks is rich pink and red. They are carefully fitted together, the joints being blocked up with cement so well that the net of them may be taken for an ornament of a sort. From overhead the border of big block mosaic is traced with a strip, or belt of the same granite having smooth surface.
The wall facing of the mansion up to the middle of the ground floor is executed of slabs of grey granite of two kinds: dark-grey Serdobolsky Stone and light-grey one from Kovantsaari deposit. Predominating are the slabs of Serdobol Granite - both polished and finished in such a manner that they have “rocky” texture. The light-grey granite is used to far less extent – for the window-sills, outside window frames and consoles of balconies.
Combination of pink (rapakivi-granite and granite from Syyskuujansaari Island) and grey (Serdobol) granites characterizes the former mansion of the ballet-dancer M.F.Kshe-sinskaya (Kronwerksky pr., N 1/3).
The stone decor of different colours fits very well with light facing bricks, blue majolica bordering the facades just under the roof and the ornament in a shape of oak leaves made of red ceramics that decorates walls of a small close court located in front of the main entrance to the mansion. The edifice is fenced off with an elegant forged railing with polished columns cut of dark-grey Serdobol Granite. The gate are constructed of large blocks of light-grey granite and faced with dark-grey polished granite and black gabbro as viewed from the prospekt.
The highly artistic decoration of the mansion harmonizing with its fine proportions and outline, as well as the superior quality of the work produces a deep, extraordinary impression.
The MOSQUE (Kronwerksky Prospekt, N 7)
An original, rising high silhouette of graceful, well-proportioned minarets and a blue cupola of the cathedral mosque dominates architectural ensembles of the south-east-ern part of Petrogradskaya Side. It was built in 1910-1914 from money gathered by believers (500 000 roubles). The competition for the best project of the mosque was announced back in 1907. According to canons of Islam, an architect was confronted with definite problems: an altar niche was to face Mecca, no images of living beings could be tolerated. On the list of the competition Committee were all such famous architects as L.N.Benois, A.I.Gogen, F.I.Lidval et al. N.V.Vasilyev’s project had proved to be the best, in more recent time S.S.Krichinsky and A.I.Gogen participated in its development. The St.Petersburg Mosque was designed on the model of the Mausoleum of Tamerland in Samarkand, but at the same time the architecture of the building bears features of Northern Modern as well. First and foremost, this impression is given by the austere stone facing made of grey Tiurula Gneiss and Kovantsaari Granite worked up in different techniques and, in the consequence, coloured various tints. The corners of the building and a part of the southern facade are faced with rusticated slabs of Tiurula Stone, the “rocky” texture lends these slabs gloomy dark-grey colour. The range of colours of the grey Kovansaari Granite facing the most part of the Mosque changes too: unpolished slabs with uneven, rough surfaces have deep grey colour while those with smooth surfaces are light-grey.
Smooth surfaces of the granitic walls over windows are decorated with oriental scrolls. Minor angular arches are also cut in the granite and two round medallions on the back facade are covered with sets of Arabic letters interwoven in one design resembling an ornament. In such a way some sayings from the Koran are presented. Very impressive are the graceful tall minarets. They are faced with light-grey granite and entirely decorated with a carved ornament consisting of big rhombs.
The splendid decoration of coloured majolica and china complements the austere grey stone. This colourful material is used in ornamental compositions of the portal, in the original, carpet-like adornment of the walls of the northern and eastern facades, on towers of the minarets and for the covering of the cupola. The creater of the colored tiles and figured details of the ornament was the prominent artist-ceramist P.K.Vaulin. He had made all his ceramics at a small factory in Kikerino situated not far from Gatchina, using blue clay that is common in environs of the city and known as Cambrian.
Large mosaic ornaments embellishing the facades are composed of china. Fragments of the intricate oriental pattern of the mosaic are different in form, their colours are typical for Modern style: they are blue, light-blue, emerald-green, lilac, violet, rosy, cherry-coloured. The porcelain mosaic has kept quite well until the present time. However convex majolica tiles coloured blue, violet, green and used for the facing of the cupola have appeared to be not so firm and had begun to flake.
Nowdays the Mosque is undergoing repair. They are carrying out cleaning of the stone, restoration of metal details and substitution of porcelain for majolica in the facing of the cupola. The surface of the latter (1000 m2) is covered with three thousand intricately figured blocks of coloured china.
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