Gardner and Kuznetsov porcelain: Discoveries during Khudozhestvenny Cinema restoration

December 21, 2020

During the restoration work at the Khudozhestvenny (Art) Cinema archaeological finds were made. These are fragments of ancient white-clay smooth and red-clay irrigation ceramics and pieces of glass.

Most of the bits of pottery found date back to the 17th and 18th centuries, but there are also some pieces from the 16th, late 19th and early 20th centuries. Of particular interest, are the parts of faience and porcelain dishes marked with names of the factories belonging to the family of industrialist and entrepreneur Matvey Kuznetsov. It’s this man who founded one of the largest porcelain and faience production works in the Russian Empire, whose enterprises produced expensive tableware in different cities. Their goods competed in beauty and elegance with those made by the Imperial porcelain factory.

Also among the archaeological finds were lipstick containers, a faience statuette, fragments of table ware with the Gardner factory stamp. This was the first private enterprise in Russia that produced porcelain. The factory was founded in the 18th century by the Scottish merchant Francis (Franz) Gardner.

 "All the glass pieces found during the restoration of the cinema date back to the end of the 19th-beginning of the 20th century. There are different sizes of bottles, including flasks and shtofs (a special four-sided bottle with a short neck, which was used for storing and serving alcoholic beverages), inkwells, medicine vials, test tubes, flasks, wineglasses and liquor glasses," said Head of the Department of Cultural Heritage Alexei Yemelyanov.

The Head of the Department of Cultural Heritage added that these finds help to understand the life of people who resided in Moscow in the past centuries. Now they are being studied, described and restored. In the future, they will add to the collections of the capital's museums.

The complex restoration of Khudozhestvenny Cinema (14 Arbatskaya Square) has been completed, and Moscow’s Department of Cultural Heritage now has the reporting documentation.

 This building is a cultural heritage site of regional importance. Experts restored it, based on archival drawings and material. Thus, the original preserved trusses (a system of rods and fasteners), which are 110 years old, were restored. The historic stained glass window in the foyer, which was lost in the 1990s, has been done up according to archival drawings. Part of the coffered ceiling (a multi-level system consisting of hollows, cells and beams) and the original steps of the staircase on the left leading to the balcony have also been preserved and restored.

All the work in the cinema was carried out under the supervision of Department of Cultural Heritage controllers and according to the approved project. After the restoration is completed, Khudozhestvenny Cinema will once again be showing filmss.

The cinema building was built in 1909 and it was commissioned by the Moscow entrepreneur, Robert Albert Brocksh. The original design of the cinema for 400 people was drawn up by the architect, Nikolai Blagoveshchensky. From 1912 to 1913, the building was renovated by the architect, Fyodor Shechtel. He managed to increase the number of seats to 900.

In the 1930s, the appearance of Arbat Square changed dramatically: low-story buildings were eliminated, the Arbatskaya metro station came into being as well as the famous market (bombed in 1941).

After the Great Patriotic War the building of the cinema repeatedly underwent changes. It was repaired up and its supporting structures were strengthened. In 2019, comprehensive restoration work got underway on the cinema.


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