Ornaments and flowers: beautiful finds to be restored in a mansion in Malaya Polyanka Street

May 1

The main building of merchant Ivan Vorontsov's estate will regain its flower panels and fancy ornaments on the ceiling cornices. The unique art décor has been hidden under layers of paint for almost a century and could have been completely lost. However, the restorers managed to reveal it during the work in the mansion and outbuildings. The restoration is currently suspended for the duration of restrictions imposed due to the spread of coronavirus.

Experts have already decided how to restore the art finds that decorated the premises in the first quarter of the 20th century.

The estate is located in 9 Malaya Polyanka Street (buildings 1, 2, 6). It is a piece of the neoclassical style — an architectural trend popular in Russia in the early 20th century. There is the same-style décor discovered in the main building.

'When the restorers removed the latter-day layers of paint from the rooms' cornices, they discovered that these elements had been originally painted dark brown. It turned out to be an imitation of wood carving, typical of the neoclassical style. However, the cornices were not wooden, but moulded. Fragments of panel pictures with plant drawings have been discovered on the first floor ceilings. An arched niche on the second floor featured a flower panel. Flower paintings were made on canvases treated with a special linseed oil solution and further attached to the ceilings and walls. They were varnished to look like they had been applied directly on the surface, not on canvases,' said Head of the Moscow Cultural Heritage Department Alexei Yemelyanov.

According to Alexei, the mansion has changed several owners over the years. Many décor elements were painted over and completely hidden in Soviet times as too fanciful. The discovered patterns on the cornices and artistic panels are to be completely restored. They will be cleared of many layers of paint and dirt, with cracks filled in, chips removed and lost parts restored. Specialists will also renovate the drawings and re-apply protective varnish coating.

Who built the estate

The history of the estate in Malaya Polyanka dates back to the mid-18th century, when it belonged to Prince Fyodor Baryatinsky, judge of the Court Department and State Councillor. The estate had stone-made chambers and wooden outbuildings. It had often changed owners since its construction, with the nobles reselling it to each other.

In 1835, the wife of a Leib Guard horse regiment lieutenant Yelizaveta Ofrosimova became the estate's owner and ordered to construct a two-story house with an Empire style basement. The front façade had a portico with four columns, and an attic (a decorative wall) mounted above it. The lower part of the building was stone-made, while the upper part was wooden, with façades plastered.

Since the mid-19th century, only merchants owned the estate. So, among its owners were the wife of a Moscow merchant of Ogorodnaya Sloboda's 3rd Guild Marya Antonova, and a Moscow merchant of Semyonovskaya Sloboda's 1st Guild Andrei Viktorov who was in copper business. In 1900, he sold the estate to the son of a Tula merchant Ivan Vorontsov.

Under Vorontsov, the main estate building was rebuilt according to the architect Ivan Mashkov's design. So, the attic and the portico with columns were dismantled, with the façade decorated in eclectic style. This building's look has survived until present. The walls of the first and second floors are finished with rock-face stones (masonry imitation). The windows are decorated with moulded architraves and keystones (a finishing masonry element helping a stone or brick vault withstand the load) and decorative cornices with plaster mouldings. There are two merchant cartouches above the windows of the second floor — a decorative element shaped as an unrolled scroll of paper with IV (Ivan Vorontsov) initials. The architect also decorated the mansion rooms in eclectic style, with Art Nouveau and Empire elements.

At the same time, two two-story stone-made outbuildings were built according to Mashkov's design to house servants' rooms, stables, a coach house, and warehouses.

In the Soviet time, the former merchant's mansion housed communal flats, later replaced by a healthcare facility. During that time, the building acquired many partitions, and had its walls and ceilings painted over.

The mansion's restoration

After the restrictions are over, specialists will continue to restore the old mansion's interior based on extant fragments and historical documents.

'In addition to plaster mouldings and painted panels, four house stoves lined with smooth white and coloured tiles, and floor coverings will be restored. These are oak parquet and mettlach tiles (small ceramic tiles of various shapes and colours). The old grand staircase with its white-stone steps and a metal wrought-iron fence will be renovated, too,' Alexei Yemelyanov reported.

The former city estate of merchant Ivan Vorontsov in Malaya Polyanka is a cultural heritage site of regional significance. This means that its historical look cannot be modified, with all the restoration work supervised by the Moscow Cultural Heritage Department and performed according to the project agreed by the Department.

Ivan Mashkov (1867–1945) is a Russian and Soviet architect, restorer and researcher of ancient Russian architecture. He graduated from the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. The architect was licensed to construct buildings at the age of 19. 1890 till 1913, he was an architect of the Fraternal Society in Moscow. By orders of charitable facilities, he built houses with flats provided free of charge to the poor. Starting 1895, he served as the architect of the Moscow City Council. Most of the buildings designed by Mashkov belong to the pseudo-Russian style and neoclassicism.

Restoration of historical buildings is a priority of the urban environment improvement. Many cultural heritage sites have been revived and adapted for modern use, while preserving the appearance of Moscow. Since 2011, over 1,400 cultural heritage sites have been restored in Moscow.

Source: mos.ru

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