Four sculptures restored on the facade of the former Ferrein pharmacy

April 16

The restoration of the sculptures of the goddess of health Hygeia has been completed. They adorn the main facade of the former Ferrein pharmacy. This pharmacy was the most famous in Moscow and the largest in Europe in late 19th - early 20th centuries. It was nicknamed “the tsar-pharmacy” due to its magnificent decoration. The building is located at 19-21 Nikolskaya Street, bldg. 2. It was constructed in the Neo-Renaissance architectural style, which is based on the Renaissance art.

Four identical statues of the goddess of health are the main feature of the exterior decoration of the building. In ancient Greek mythology, Hygeia was the daughter of the god of healing Asclepius.

The sculptures depict a standing goddess looking forward. Her hairstyle is typical of Greek sculptures — her curled hair is gathered in a low bun at the back, and while falling low on the forehead. The figure is dressed in a chiton (an ancient Greek undergarment without sleeves), tied with a belt, and wears an upper cape — peplos. The goddess has a small snake wrapped around her right arm, and a bowl in her left hand.

“The restoration of the sculptures lasted six months. The work was difficult and meticulous. After all, they have never been restored in the 120-year history of the building, and the figures were already in critical condition, when specialists started their work. Now the restored statues are still in the workshop. We assume they will be returned to the facade in the near future,” said Alexey Yemelyanov, the head of the Moscow Department of Cultural Heritage.

Press service of the Department of Cultural Heritage

He also noted that the building of the former Ferrein pharmacy is a cultural heritage site of regional significance. Therefore, all restoration work was carried out under the supervision of specialists from Moscow Department of Cultural Heritage and following the project approved by the department.

Dismantling the figures was the main difficulty. The task was challenging since zinc alloy, which the statues are made of, is very fragile, and their frame was already badly damaged.

The sculptures were removed from the facade at night. Experts carefully dismantled them one by one, while standing on an elevated work platform and using safety devices. All the statues were safely delivered to the workshop. Restorers cleaned them from dirt and corrosion with special solutions. Next, they repaired various damages, including through holes on the surface of the sculptures.

The next stage of the work involved the production of the lost parts. For example, heads of snakes and bowls needed to be restored. For this purpose, three-dimensional scans of the sculptures were made. This allowed us to develop models of the lost elements in a special program. They were later made of plastic on a 3D printer and then melted out of metal.

The zinc alloy, which the parts were cast of during the restoration, is 100 percent the same as the original alloy of the sculptures.

After the lost elements were recreated, the frames of the sculptures were strengthened, and their surface covered with special protective compounds.

The pharmacy on Nikolskaya Street was opened in 1862 by an honorary citizen of Moscow, Karl Ferrein. In 1872, he passed it along to his son Vladimir Karlovich Ferrein (1834-1918).

In 1873, Vladimir Karlovich expanded the family business by renting and remodeling a part of the neighboring building. All the rooms were equipped for customer service, and warehouses were organized. The pharmacy also conducted research, analysis, and did theoretical and practical classes in pharmaceutical disciplines. In 1881, Ferrein introduced an innovation to encourage the work of the company's employees. He gave his employees an opportunity to buy shares of the company's revenue. That is why the company became known as the “V.K. Ferrein’s Partnership”.

By the end of the 19th century, the Ferrein pharmacy “outgrew” the building on Nikolskaya street, and it was again rebuilt. Thanks to the architect Adolf Erichson, it has acquired its modern look: a four-story house with a basement, four statues of the ancient Greek goddess of health Hygeia on the facade and a chimney in the shape of a tower. Then the pharmacy was decorated with a clock that has not survived to this day.

The Ferrein pharmacy became a unique pharmaceutical enterprise: the medicines that were previously brought from abroad were carefully studied there and analyzed to prepare their analogues. In addition to the pharmacy on Nikolskaya street the "V. K. Ferrein’s Partnership” owned pharmacy shops in the city, several laboratories (many tests were carried out there, including soil, water, and food analyses), a glass-blowing workshop, a chemical products factory in the city of Mologa in Yaroslavl province (flooded in 1946 by the Rybinsk reservoir), as well as two plantations of medicinal herbs — in the Crimea and Podolsky district of the Moscow province (now Butovo).

The Ferreins left Russia in 1917. In 1931, the All-Russian Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants was organized on the base of the Butovo estate with its rich botanical garden. Under the Soviet regime, the former Ferrein pharmacy was first called the central pharmacy, then - the pharmacy No. 1. It lasted until 2000.

Adolf Erichson (1862-1940) was a Swedish-born Russian architect and a master of Art Nouveau. He worked in the neo-Russian, eclectic, and neoclassical styles. His works include the estate of N.S. Tretyakov (14 Sushchevskaya Street), the Moscow Central telephone exchange of the Swedish-Danish-Russian Telephone Joint-Stock Company (5 Milyutinsky Lane), the house of the bank and trading house of I.V. Junker and Co. (16/5 Kuznetsky Most Street).


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