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Surviving Frescos (from the Church of the Transfiguration of Our Savior in Kovalevo. 14th Century)

St. Helen. Fragment of the restored composition from the Church of the Transfiguration of Our Savior in KovalevoDuring the years of World War II dozens of invaluable monuments of medieval architecture and monumental painting were lost forever. Many of the churches suffered greatly - the church of the Assumption on Volotov Field, the Church of St. Michael on Skovorodka, the church of St. Andrew on Sitka and others were turned into a monstrous mixture of ground limestone blocks, remains of frescos smashed to tiny bits and unexploded shells. The Church of the Transfiguration of Our Savior in Kovalevo had also been on the list of destroyed buildings until the 1970s.

But the fate of this church turned out to be more favorable. During excavations of 1965-1967 while rummaging in the terrible debris the rescue team managed to find and collect all the pieces of broken frescos, even the tiniest ones. After that the destroyed frescos went through a long and complicated restoration process. Mould had to be removed, the foundation strengthened and the color layers renewed. When the preliminary work was over, bits of frescos had to be carefully put together like the pieces of a puzzle and mounted. This unprecedented experiment was headed by A. Grekov.

The results of this great work which had lasted for thirty years are really impressive. Several hundred of square meters of frescos had been returned to life. At the exhibition open at the Yaroslav Dvorishche in a two-story building next to St. Nicholas Cathedral, visitors can see the restored frescos mounted on titanium panels and depicting images of saints and multiple-figured compositions, and get an idea of the general system of painting which had once adorned the church. Next to the originals on display are wonderfully prepared copies made by A. Grekov during the restoration work and making it possible to better understand the specific aspects of the old fresco language.

The work by restorers A. Grekov and V. Grekov was awarded the State Prize of the Russian Federation in 1987.

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