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Old Russian Decorative, Applied and Jeweler's Art

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Oklad for the Gospel bookIt is difficult to imagine an Orthodox church without precious chalices and patens, without religious books and icons in gold and silver oklads (icon frames), without precious mitres and pectoral crosses. All these objects, which had been accumulated in sacristies of St. Sophia Cathedral, in the Yuriev, Antoniev, Khutynsky other large monasteries for centuries, are now on display in the smartly-ornamented hall of the Vladychnaya (Granovitaya) Palata.

Some of the works by Russian, Byzantine and Western European artists displayed at the exposition, are absolutely invaluable, such as the iron-cast zions of the 12th century from St. Sophia Cathedral, craters signed by Novgorod virtuoso jewelers Kosta and Bratila, or the miniature icon "St. George" dating back to the same period and prepared in the technique of plique-a-jour, or the archbishop Heronty's crosier (15th century).

Zion. 12th century. From St. Sophia CathedralThe "Panagia" icon painted by a master known simply as Ivan in 1435 can rightly be called a masterpiece of international significance.

Novgorod goldsmiths and jewelers learned a lot from Byzantine masters: they took over the technique of filigree and plique-a-jour, engraving and hot gilding, blacking and carving, imitated various ornamental motifs, and learned the skill of rendering human figures in battle. But they also managed to preserve their originality, which became quite obvious by the 14th - 16th centuries, when richly ornamented filigree combined with enamel and precious stones - rubies, emeralds, sapphires - became widely popular in Russia.

The exposition displays both tiny temporal rings from a burial mound of the 11th century and the enormous festive Gospel of the 17th century. The latter is decorated with an elaborate silver cover weighing about 30 kilograms while a primikirin-candlestick is adorned with dozens of large-sized stones of garnets and turquoise.

Besides their obvious artistic value, many of the objects displayed in the glass cases have a great historical significance as they had once belonged to well-known people. Several objects - including a panagiya of Russian workmanship, German kovshi (dippers) and a hand-wash stand - are connected with the name of Patriarch Nikon. An elegant silver cup by master R. Vishtkoph was among the gifts presented to Peter I by the Swedish king Carl XII, and a great silver kovsh was given to Afanasy Zolotov for his great accomplishments in bringing much "wine profit" to the country's treasury. Among the works of the 19th century one should mention the Gospel made by F. Verkhovtsev and commissioned by A. Arakcheev in memory of Alexander I's death, as well as a chalice and a paten made for Nicholas I of the gray "ocellar" jasper (author - master Keibel).

The museum staff have prepared a virtual exposition of Old Russian Decorative, Applied and Jeweler's Art. [ Back to Museums ]

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