Decoration of the Imperial Orphanage: the completion of white stone sculptures restoration

October 16
Parks and pedestrian areas

The restoration of sculptures framing the entrance to the territory of the Imperial Educational Home from Solyanka Street has been completed. These are copies of the ‘Mercy’ and ‘Education’ allegorical compositions of the XIX century created from white stone and installed in the 1970s.

The original sculptures have been kept since 1969 on the territory of the Donskoy Monastery in the branch of the A.V. Shchusev State Museum of Architecture.

The author of the original figures was the sculptor Ivan Vitali, and the sketches of the pylons on which they stood were created by the famous architect Domenico Gilardi.

Exact copies of the sculptural compositions sent for museum storage were made more than half a century ago by the sculptor Mikhail Olenin. They were installed on the original pylons.

Mercy is personified by a woman nursing a baby and holding a flaming heart in her raised hand. She is surrounded by older children. And Education is symbolized by a woman reading a book to children. The first sculpture group consists of four figures (including a baby on a woman's lap), and the second group consists of three figures. These works, as well as the entire ensemble of the Imperial Orphanage, belong to the style of early classicism.

"The long-awaited restoration of copies of the Mercy and Education sculptural compositions decorating the entrance to the territory of the orphanage ensemble has complete. It is very important for us to emphasize that the restoration became possible thanks to cooperation within the framework of the volunteer project of the Russian Association of Restorers. Prior restoration, experts determined that for half a century of being outdoors, the condition of the stone had deteriorated significantly, which is why a comprehensive restoration was required. The work was carried out under the control of our department," Alexey Yemelyanov, Head of the capital's Department of Cultural Heritage, said.

Restorers have been getting sculptures and ancient pylons in order for almost five months. First, the surface of the monuments was cleaned manually with the help of tools and special compositions that wash away dirt. The sculptures were brought to perfect purity with the help of a laser. Then specialists plastered cracks and restored the lost element of the ‘Mercy’ composition (a fragment of a woman's hand holding a flaming heart — a symbol of mercy). The pylons made of white stone with a sandstone base, which play the role of pedestals for sculptures, have also been cleaned. They were strengthened and leveled, the plinth junctions were restored. After that, a protective coating was applied to the surface of the sculptures and pylons.

A fragment of the wrought-iron fence adjacent to the pylon with the ‘Mercy’ sculpture was also restored. Experts removed layers of old paint, recreated the lost parts and painted again. These works were carried out in the workshop. In the near future, the fence railing will be returned to its original place.

The restoration of the entire ensemble of the Imperial Orphanage has been underway since March 2021. This is the largest pre-revolutionary complex of buildings in the city. Its history goes back 257 years. Its ensemble includes six buildings — federally significant cultural heritage sites, as well as eight buildings that are subject to reconstruction, but are not cultural heritage sites. Buildings are located at: Kitaygorodsky Proezd, 9.

The Moscow Imperial Orphanage was laid in 1764 as a charitable teaching and educational institution for unparented children. Its creation was initiated by Ivan Betskoy, a Russian educator, personal secretary of Empress Catherine the Great. In accordance with the General Layout drawn up by Betskoy, Vasilievsky Lug, a plot of land between Solyanka and the Moskva River, was handed over for construction.

The complex of buildings was designed by Karl Blank — one of last Baroque masters and the first architect of early classicism in Russia. The ensemble is distinguished by a complex spatial pattern of facades with their setting external simplicity and flatness.

According to Karl Blanc’s project, the house was supposed to consist of three closed square-buildings with extensive courtyards. The main building and the western square were built in the XVIII century, but the eastern square was erected only in the 1960s on the initiative of Joseph Loveiko, a Soviet architect.

In the XVIII-XX centuries, the orphanage complex continued to be expanded and completed. In 1812, house servants, who stayed in Moscow occupied by the French army to care for orphans, saved the main building from a fire, although Kitay-Gorod has been almost completely destroyed.

After the revolution, the buildings were handed over to trade union institutions. The Palace of Labor was opened here — it is described in the ‘12 Chairs’ novel by Ilya Ilf and Yevgeny Petrov as the House of Peoples. From 1938 to 2016, the complex first housed the Dzerzhinsky Artillery Academy of the Red Army, and then the Peter the Great Military Academy of Strategic Missile Forces (VA RVSN).

Source: mos.ru

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