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The Russian Revival style
April 10, 2014 09:53

The Russian Revival style was a trend in Russian architecture based on traditions of Old Russian architecture blended with assets of folk Russia and elements of Byzantine architecture.

The Russian Revival Style had two currents:
1. Russian-Byzantine style was generally used by architects in the second half of the 19th century and placed strong emphasis on Byzantine motifs in architecture.
2. Neo Russian style appeared in the early 20th century. Rooted in traditions of architecture of northern Russia, it also imbibed some traits of the modernist style.
The Russian style in architecture was developed in the 1870s, against the background of growing Populism and common interest in folk culture and old Russian architecture. The entire style in Russian architecture is impregnated with monumentality, national spirit and proximity to the Russian heart.

One of the first trends to appear within the Russian Revival style was the Russian Byzantine style, which took shape in church architecture of the 1830s. Its development was promoted by very extensive governmental support, since the Russian Byzantine style embodied the idea of continuity between Byzantium and Russia. The Russian Byzantine architecture adopted a number of composition methods and motifs of the Byzantine architecture and they were most vividly expressed in “model projects” of churches by Konstantin Ton in the 1840s. He designed Christ the Saviour Cathedral, the Grand Kremlin Palace and Armory in Moscow, as well as cathedrals in Yelets (the Ascension Cathedral), Tomsk, Rostov-on-Don and Krasnoyarsk.

Another trend in the Russian Revival style appeared under the influence of romanticism and Slavophilism. The New Russian style interpreted and improvised with motifs of Old Russian architecture. Lots of Alexey Gornostayev’s constructions were built with this approach. A striking example of this style is the Pogodinskaya Log Hut constructed by Nikolay Nikitin in the Devichy Field in Moscow.
Style Development in the Late 19th Century
In the early 1870s the ideas of Russian populists (Narodniki) awakened keen interest in folk culture, peasant architecture and the Russian architecture of the 16th – 17th centuries. One of the most vivid constructions in the Russian Revival style of the 1870s was Ivan Ropet’s Tower (1873) in Abramtzevo near Moscow and Mamontov’s Printing House (1872) constructed by Victor Gartman in Moscow. This trend, which was actively propagandized by the well-known art critic Vladimir Stasov spread to architecture of wooden exhibition halls and small town houses, and then embraced monumental stone architecture.
By the early 1880s “Ropet’s manner” gave place to a new official approach of the Russian Revival style, which was almost word for word copying decorative motifs of Russian architecture of the 17th century. Following that approach, white stone or brick buildings came to be plentifully decorated in the manner of Russian folk architecture. This architecture was peculiar for tubby columns, low vaulted ceilings, narrow windows, tower-like roofs, frescos with floral ornaments, use of multi-color tiles and massive hammer-work. The Top Malls (1890-1893, presently the famous GUM building in the Red Square) by the architect Alexander Pomerantsev, the History Museum building (1875-1810, also in the Red Square) by the architect Vladimir Sherwood, and the Savvinsky Courtyard by the architect Ivan Kuznetsov were built in this manner.
Development in the Early 20th Century
The New Russian style evolved in the early 20th century. Russian architects looking for monumental simplicity directed their eyes to ancient architecture monuments of Novgorod and Pskov and to architecture traditions of the Russian North. Buildings in this style sometimes have the flair of the northern Art Nouveau. The New Russian style mostly found use in St. Petersburg in church buildings designed by Vladimir Pokrovsky, Stepan Krichinsky, Andrey Aplaksin, and Hermann Grimm. At the same time some guest houses were also built in the New Russian style. A typical example of that was Kupperman's House by the architect A. L. Lishnevsky in Plutalova Street.
An interesting example of the New Russian style with a tint of Art Nouveau is the Vernicle Church in Klyazma constructed by the architect V. I. Motylyov in Klyazma for the   300th anniversary of the Romanovs’ Dynasty.  Built in 1913 — 1916, it was based on a drawing by S. I. Vashkov (1879 — 1914), a student of the famous artist Vasnetsov.
Architecture historians expressed an opinion that the New Russian style was closer to Art Nouveau than to eclecticism, and from this point of view it is different from the Russian Revival style as it is traditionally seen.

Author: Vera Ivanova

Tags: Russian Architecture     

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