Schechtel’s masterpiece: Valuation made on Savva Morozov’s house on Spiridonovka Street

June 13

The Department of Cultural Heritage has approved the protection of another unique architectural landmark in the heart of the capital: the house of the famous manufacturer and philanthropist Savva Morozov. Experts have confirmed the historical and artistic value of its facades and interior as well as the magnificent metal fence and gates and six garden sculptures situated the courtyard.

The two-storey house located on 17 Spiridonovka Street, Bldg.1 was designed by the famous architect Fyodor Schechtel at the end of the 19th century. Its rooms were decorated by artist Mikhail Vrubel. This was Savva Morozov’s luxurious gift to his favourite wife Zinaida. After his death, she owned the house until 1909 when she sold it to Mikhail Ryabushinsky, a collector and philanthropist. During the Soviet era, the house was nationalised and first of all housed a regional food committee, and starting from 1929, the People’s Commissariat of Foreign Affairs. Today it’s the Reception House of the Russian Foreign Ministry. In 1996, a G8 meeting took place there.

The Morozov house is a federal cultural landmark and is rightfully considered one of the best examples of late 19th century city estate architecture. The design of its facades uses traits of the English Neo-Gothic style: spiky spires on the roof, lancet windows and gargoyles on the downpipes and edges of the terraces. The fence and gates are also Gothic. After some research, it was decided and approved that the house must be protected, as well as all the valuable features forming the historical image of this unique building,” said Head of the Department of Cultural Heritage Alexei Yemelyanov.

According to Yemelyanov, the compositional solution as well as architectural and artistic design of the late 19th-century building’s facades, including its size, form, location and the style of the doors and windows, the ground floor, the main entrance with lancet archways, bilateral ramps and the staircase and their fences (metallic, with decorative brickwork plus pillared fences), as well as flowerpots, columns, pinnacles, castellated turrets and stucco and carved adornments, including panels with decorative features, medallions, garlands, ribbons, styled roses and shamrocks, masks, floral and geometric patterns. Art metal of the late 19th century was also recognised as valuable, including the cast-iron fencing of the balconies, terraces, the ends of the pipes shaped like masks and the gargoyles and a sculpture of chimera on the fence of one of the balconies.

A fire broke out in the building in 1995. It destroyed more than a half of its original interior, but the construction and decorations of some of its interior and facades remained almost intact. What was left of the artifacts and adornments were restored and preserved by 20 organisations from various countries according to Schechtel’s original sketches. Experts have managed to save three panels: Morning, Noon and Evening by Mikhail Vrubel, which figuratively portray the awakening of nature depicted as a mermaid-like female.

Moreover, the building has Monier ceilings, stucco and carved adornments, cornices, ceiling borders, friezes (relief and picturesque), rosettes, coffered ceilings, columns and pilasters made of artificial marble with stucco caps and metal decorative panels. The house has built-in wooden furniture designed by Fyodor Schechtel, including throne chairs, a grandfather clock shaped like a Gothic tower and a desk. The main staircase with the Robert and the Nuns sculptures by Mikhail Vrubel, Gothic fireplaces, mirrors, late 19th –century lamps: lanterns, chandeliers, drop-shaped lamps, wall bracket lamps and other things survived.

Experts have also confirmed the value of the architectural and artistic design of the 19th-century fence and gates, including the quadrilateral poles with ornately shaped niches, gate pylons with decorative lanterns on top and fanciful metallic bars with caps shaped like animal heads. Moreover, the protection extends to six garden sculptures of women and an angel.

According to Alexei Yemelyanov, now all the restoration work in the house will be carried out taking into consideration its new status.

Fyodor Schechtel (1859–1926) was a Soviet Russian architect, painter and sketch artist. He was one of the most prominent architects of the late 19th and early 20th century. At the beginning of his career, he experimented with various architectural styles from Gothic to Russian Revival. Art scholars call Schechtel the father of the Russian Art Nouveau, although he had no professional education in architecture. In addition to Zinaida Morozova’s house, he also designed Ryabushinsky’s house (6/2 Malaya Nikitskaya Street, Bldg. 5) where writer Maxim Gorky lived in the 1930s, the famous Porcelain House at 8/2 Myasnitskaya Street, Alexandra Derozhinskaya’s house with a black spider on its doors (13 Kropotkinsky Pereulok, Bldg. 1) and his own house 28 Yermolayevsky Pereulok, Bldg. 1. He also developed restoration projects for Yaroslavsky Railway Station and the Stanislavski and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Academic Music Theatre.

Treat yourself and relax with a virtual tour around the houses of the Morozov, Derozhinskaya, Schechtel and other architectural landmarks at the Learn Moscow website. There are 17 online tours around Moscow historical landmarks in total.

Preserving and doing up architectural landmarks in Moscow is one of the most important things that the Department of Cultural Heritage’s does. Many landmarks receive a second life and are made use of today while the historical image of the capital remains intact. Over 1,400 landmarks have been restored since 2011, including 203 last year.


Latest Events

«We Treasure Our Lucid Dreams». The Other East and Esoteric Knowledge in Russian Art 1905–1969

January 31August 9


March 7
If you continue to use our website, you are agreeing to accept the use of cookies on your device. Cookie files ensure the website’s efficiency and help us provide you with the most interesting and relevant information. Read more about cookie files.
Accept ccokies