Life-Giving Cross


Life-Giving cross
"The bone Life-Giving Cross with the apostles' faces on the Ark"
(Medallions: center - the Crucifix, top - St. Andrew,
Left - St. Paul, right - St. Peter, low - St. Catherine.)

1725. A.Nartov, M.Zemtsov, B.-K.Rastrelli, Peter the Great.
Reconstruction 1994-95. V.Mokeeva, G.Mikhailov, I.Burkovskaya,
V.Kazcheev, A.Kazcheev, V.Gradov, A.Korshikov.
82,6'' x 39,3'', mammoth tusk, wood, gilded bronze

Life-Giving cross "The ivory Life-Giving Cross"
Illustration from A.K.Nartov's manuscript "Theatrum Machinarum", 1755

Mould Mould with embossed image of Saint Peter
first quarter of the 18th century, B.-K.Rastrelli, D-13,7''

Medal "Saint Peter" medal
D-3,9'', mammoth tusk, 1995
made on the reconstructed medalic-copier lathe
with using exact copy of a Rastrelli's mould.

(on the reconstruction of "The bone Life-Giving Cross with the Representation of Apostolic Faces on the Ark" as an old piece of decorative art)

    Reconstructed by St. Petersburg artists, the altar "Life-Giving Cross" is memorable for the national culture.
    The Cross was made in the early eighteenth century, with the direct participation of Peter the Great, who was skilful in both turning and carving. This magnificent piece, 2 metres 10 centimetres high, harmoniously combined the Russian tradition of bone carving and European ornamental turning, according to Peter the Great's design. The loss of the Cross later in the eighteenth century disinherited our culture of one of the most wonderful artefacts associated with the name and personality of Peter the Great.
    It is only the revival of Peter's active medallic-copier lathe in the Petropol gallery in 1993 that allowed to implement the unprecedented academic reconstruction of Peter's "Life-Giving Cross" and to return the masterpiece to Russian culture in 1994-1995. The reconstruction was based on the sketches in the manuscript of A. K. Nartov, Peter's private turner, and the authentic copies of Peter times from the Hermitage collection. A group of most efficient researchers, architects, restorers, sculptors and bone carvers from Petropol gallery, Hermitage and Academy of Arts worked on the reconstruction of the Cross.
    From both artistic and historical points of view, the reconstructed "Life-Giving Cross" is practically invaluable. Yet the utmost complexity, uniqueness of techniques and cost of materials used in the course of reconstruction let evaluate it at about US$ 250,000-270,000.

I. N. Ukhanova, Ph.D. (History)
Head of the Applied Art Sector,
Russian Culture Department,
State Hermitage Museum

Currently, the Cross and the machine tool are exposed to the public in St. Peter and Paul's Cathedral, Peter and Paul's Fortress, St. Petersburg.

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