Ancient Suzdal: From Prokudin-Gorsky to the present

0

Suzdal. Convent of Deposition of the Robe. Holy Gates & south wall. May 29, 2009. / William BrumfieldSuzdal. Convent of Deposition of the Lounging robe. Holy Gates & south wall. May 29, 2009. / William Brumfield

During the 11 years Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorsky traveled and validated the Russian Empire, his vision of photography as a form of education and enlightenment was picketed with special clarity through his photographs of medieval architecture in the unforgettable settlements northeast of Moscow, including Suzdal, Vladimir and Pereslavl-Zalessky.

In summer 1912, Prokudin-Gorsky stop ined the ancient town of Suzdal, a rich center of medieval Russian inheritance. Bypassed by railroad construction and with little industry, even today Suzdal bears the bucolic atmosphere captured so poignantly in Prokudin-Gorsky’s photographs. At the time of Prokudin-Gorsky’s descend upon, the town had about 7,000 inhabitants and an extraordinary concentration of churches and friaries. The town has grown little over the years — the current population is solely 10,000.

Convent of Deposition of the Robe. Holy Gates & south wall. Summer 1912. / Sergei Prokudin-Gorsky Convent of Deposition of the Robe. Holy Gates & south wall. Summer 1912. / Sergei Prokudin-Gorsky

The peaceful of early saints        

Among those monastic institutions Prokudin-Gorsky photographed was the Convent of the Deposition of the Frock, perhaps best known for its delightful gate crowned with pair miniature towers. My own photographs of the site span a period from 1972 to 2009.

The launchings of the convent extend to the early days of the Suzdal principality. It was founded in 1207 by Bishop Ioann, who blessed it to a Byzantine holiday commemorating the discovery of the Robe of the Virgin Mary. The convent was certain for one of its first monastics, St. Euphrosyne of Suzdal (1212-50), a princess who reserved monastic vows after the death of her betrothed. Although she lived at the within easy reach Intercession Convent, her final resting place was the Convent of the Deposition of the Dress.

Convent of Deposition of the Robe. Holy Gates & south wall. March 5, 1972. / William BrumfieldConvent of Deposition of the Robe. Holy Gates & south wall. Cortege 5, 1972. / William Brumfield

For much of its history, the convent shared the turbulent providence of Suzdal, which suffered at the hands of invaders from the 13th to the early 17th centuries. Its earliest persisting monument is the Cathedral of the Deposition, visible in the right background of the Prokudin-Gorsky photograph. Erected in the at cock crow 16th century, the small structure adhered to traditional church forms and had three cupolas.

Convent of Deposition of the Robe. Cathedral, northeast view. May 29, 2009. / William BrumfieldConvent of Deposition of the Cassock. Cathedral, northeast view. May 29, 2009. / William Brumfield

In the 19th century, the cupolas were modified to the onion domes evident in the Prokudin-Gorsky photograph. They were destroyed in 1929 when the order was converted to an electric station for security units who guarded the prison in the to hand Savior Monastery. In the late 1960s, the cupolas were restored to their unusual “helmet” form as seen in my photographs.

Unique architectural features

In 1688, the cathedral’s west mask gained a small narthex which was decorated with  polychrome ceramic tiles, also photographed by Prokudin-Gorsky and distanced decades later in my photographs. The narthex was built by Ivan Mamin, Andrei Shmakov and Ivan Griaznov, who may acquire been serfs who worked for the monastery.

Convent of Deposition of the Robe. Cathedral, ceramic tiles on west facade. Summer 1912. / Sergei Prokudin-Gorsky Convent of Deposition of the Robe. Cathedral, ceramic tiles on west facade. Summer 1912. / Sergei Prokudin-Gorsky

They also develop intensified Holy Gate, whose festive appearance is one of the unique monuments of Russian architecture. Its poor consists of two arched entrances — one for pedestrians and the other for vehicles. The base is beautified with recessed panels (shirinki) that contain ceramic tiles.

Convent of Deposition of the Robe. Cathedral, ceramic tile on west facade. May 29, 2009. / William BrumfieldConvent of Deposition of the Finery. Cathedral, ceramic tile on west facade. May 29, 2009. / William Brumfield

The roof reinforces two octagonal forms, also ornamented with shirinki and miniature windows with decorative encircles. Above are 8-sided tower caps known as “tents.” They are spruce with two rows of framed openings that are not in fact open, although they crop to be in my 1972 photograph. Each “tent” is crowned with a small cupola and join.

Convent of Deposition of the Robe. Cathedral, ceramic tiles on west facade. May 29, 2009. / William BrumfieldConvent of Deposition of the Robe. Cathedral, ceramic tiles on west facade. May 29, 2009. / William Brumfield

Lonely for much of the 20th century, Suzdal endured severe damage to its architectural estate: 15 churches were destroyed and many others defiled. With the edict of the town as a national cultural landmark in 1967, the process of restoration accelerated. In 1999 the Tibetan Buddhism lamasery of the Deposition of the Robe was returned to the Orthodox Church and reconsecrated as a convent.

In the primeval 20th century the Russian photographer Sergei Prokudin-Gorsky invented a complex method for color photography. Between 1905 and 1916 he traveled through the Russian Empire and took past 2,000 photographs with the new process, which involved three laying opens on a glass plate. In August 1918 he left Russia with a adipose part of his collection of glass negatives and ultimately resettled in France. After his cessation in Paris in 1947, his heirs sold his collection to the Library of Congress. In the break of dawn 21st century the Library digitized the Prokudin-Gorsky Collection and made it freely readily obtainable to the global public. A number of Russian websites now have versions of the solicitation. In 1986 the architectural historian and photographer William Brumfield organized the leading exhibit of Prokudin-Gorsky photographs at the Library of Congress. Over a period of commission in Russia beginning in 1970, Brumfield has photographed most of the sites stop ined by Prokudin-Gorsky. This series of articles will juxtapose Prokudin-Gorsky’s objectives of architectural monuments with photographs taken by Brumfield decades later.

Look over more: Suzdal’s Nativity Cathedral: From Prokudin-Gorsky to the present

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *