There are many books about St.Petersburg written in English and other languages. The volume proposed to your attention is completely original. For the first time history of the building of St.Petersburg and its architecture is discussed from the unusual viewpoint. The matter is that Peter I wanted the new capital to be the first Russian city constructed all of stone - from bricks and natural rocks. It is precisely this aspect of history of the city development with concomitant descriptions of its highly artistical valuables that is of our prime interest. Taking up such a considerable subject matter, the author tried to present data in the widely available and interesting form, the more so, as this information can be useful for visitors of St.Petersburg in sightseeing. At the same time he has the pleasure of bringing to readers’ notice more special insights into disposition of old stone quarries and mines, kinds and varieties of stone, processes of its weathering and today’s workable deposits of the Russian North-West.
The proposed book is the fifth one in the series “Stone decoration of St.Petersburg” The author began this work together with Natalia B.Abakumova (1935-1991). Their first book was published in 1989 when she was yet alive. The second book written in common was issued in 1993. The name of the deceased was preserved on the title page of the third volume (1997) as acknowledgement to the dead colleague. The forth book (1999), as well as the fifth one, contain new data and are signed already by one name, though old materials that have changed their meaning and are given in new context are partly used here too. Some ideas thought originally out in cooperation with N.Abakumova are developed further. The author uses the possibility to commemorate his former colleague again.
The first chapter of the book deals with history of stone building in the capital of the Russian Empire founded by Peter I. Conceptually, it was to be the first Russian city created by the European standards. Such, indeed, is the case. The second chapter is concerned with Russian and foreign quarries of stones used in St.Petersburg. Different kinds of the applied rocks are covered in the third chapter. The forth chapter describes typical artistic manners of use of granites, marbles and other natural stones in decor of buildings of various architectural styles of St.Petersburg. The major section of the book is dedicated to history of building
and to description of stone embellishment of famous edifices, ordinary constructions, cathedrals, palaces, mansions of nobility, banks, architectural ensembles of squares and streets of St.Petersburg. Particular emphasis has been placed on stone masterpieces of different ages. The chapters devoted to them are richly illustrated with photographies, pictures, maps and schematic sketches which can be useful for our guests during their tours about the city. In the closing parts of the book some halfforgotten monuments of the city’s architecture, as well as factors and processes of natural stone weathering under urban conditions are discussed. The concise information about present deposits and quarries of building and decorative stone in the North-West of Russia is given in the final chapter.
The references are offered on three subject matters: 1) History and architecture of St.Petersburg; 2) Use of natural stone in the city; 3) Information about deposits of natural stone over the North-West of Russia, in the Ukraine and Urals.
The author hopes the book contains some new data representing additional information to the known literature concerning the history and architecture of St.Petersburg one of the centre of the world culture.
Dr.Eric Robinson, the Vice President of the Royal Archeological Institute, Professor of the University College, London, kindly looked through several chapters of the book. I wish to express him my sincere gratitude for the helpful discussion and some corrections of the English of the manuscript.
I am especially grateful to the publisher Dr.V.N.Dech whose energy and enthusiasm permitted to issue the book. In addition, I wish to thank the translator Dr. E.I.Kravtsova whose knowledges in geology together with passion for history and architecture of the city have helped to do the work available for a foreign reader. I also thank the photographer A.A.Logachev who contributed his experience and artistic taste in illustration of the book and I.Logacheva for design of the text.
Professor A.G.Bulakh, Chair of Mineralogy
St.Petersburg University, 199034 St.Petersburg
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