Eye. Amulet of Valeria

Valeria Mokeeva
Ornamental Turning

The uniqueness of St. Petersburg school of Ornamental Turning, particularly in the eighteenth century, was formed by co-operation of architects, sculptors, craftsmen, and tsars in the creative process. Yes, even tsars!
Peter the Great, Catherine II, were fond of bone turning themselves and involved into their "royal hobby" such stars as sculptor B.-K.Rastrelli, architects N.Pino, M.Zemtsov, craftsmen F.Zinger, A.Nartov. The ornamental turning pieces of this period strike our imagination with their grandeur and perfection.
Following the tradition, Valeria Mokeeva decided to revive the grandeur of St. Petersburg carving and involved experienced researchers and restorers of the Hermitage State Museum and other St. Petersburg museums into the process of reconstruction and stylization of the eighteenth century masterpieces. The joint efforts resulted in the reconstruction of such outstanding works as "The Life-Giving Cross" and Peter the Great's active ceremonial medallic-copier lathe.

Copy of medalion &quotSt. Andre"
Copy of medalion "St. Andre"
XVIII century, D - 12,5'', 1996
mammoth tusk, wood
in King's collection. Sweden.
Triumphal Arch
"Triumphal Arch"
H-22,0'', 1994
mammoth tusk, gilded bronze,wood
in private collection. USA.
The Life-Giving Cross
"The Life-Giving Cross"
1725 (reconstructed 1995)
82,6'' x 39,3''
mammoth tusk, wood, gilded bronze
Medalic Lathe
Medalic lathe of Peter the Great
1720 (reconstructed 1993)
81,4'' x 72,83'' x 50,3''
oak, metal, gilded bronze



ICOHTEC 2003, August 21-26, St.Petersburg - Moscow, Russia

Plenary Lecture "Peter the Great and the turner's shop of His Majesty"

Triumphal Pillar
Triumphal Pillar
The not realized project
A.Nartov, B.-K.Rastrelli,
Peter the Great, 1721-25.

L.I. Fayenson, State Hermitage Museum, 1995

...The reconstruction of the Cross is a stage in the implementation of the "Theatrum Machinarum" project called so after the manuscript of the same title written by Andrey Nartov, Peter' s private turner and friend. To immortalise Peter's achievements in "ornamental turning", in 1736-1755, the author described and depicted 27 machines for artistry and the objects made with the personal participation of Peter the Great in the Emperor's Turnery, which was considered the best one in Europe. In many masterpieces of Russian "ornamental turning" there was embodied the genius of such outstanding architects and sculptors as Rasstrelli the senior and N. Pino whom Peter the Great and Nartov managed to carry away with the passion to "machines for artistry".
    The manuscript let them formulate the task which experts considered unattainable at first, that of the revival of "ornamental turning" in St. Petersburg. However, the founder and president of the Petropol Gallery, the famous artist Valeria Mokeeva, was gradually becoming aware of the thought that the artistic trend, initiated by Petropol, would be incomplete without the development of turning art.
    To reach the goal, Mokeeva, with all her energy, managed a team of researchers and restorers under the academic guidance of V.Y. Matveyev, Ph.D. and chief curator of the Hermitage.
    In 1990-1993 they managed a brilliant scientifically based reconstruction of Peter the Great's ceremonial medallic-guillocheur lathe(1717-1721), which was used to turn new medals worthy of the old court collections. Many of them were handed to the important visitors and guests of the city; in 1994, on the order of the city administration, Petropol Gallery made the "Triumphal Arch" of mammoth ivory and gilt bronze, 56 centimetres high, to be handed as gift to Ted Turner, the founder of the Good Will Games. The top of the "Arch" is crowned with a medal turned on the reconstructed lathe. This gift, admired by specialists, was handed to Ted Turner by President Boris Yeltsin and Mayor Anatoly Sobchak on the day of the opening of the Good Will Games.
    Studying on the manuscript, the experts of Petropol Gallery discovered for themselves one of the most prominent objects of "ornamental turning", the "Life-Giving Cross" made of mammoth ivory. Its reconstruction was performed within a year and a half under the scientific and artistic supervision of Valeria Mokeeva. As a post-mortal monument to Peter the Great, emperor-turner, the Cross reveals the monarch personality and is an outstanding sample of the natural unity of technical and aesthetic principles, so characteristic for Peter's times...

Lubov Fayenson, Ph.D. in arts,
State Hermitage Museum

From the Catalogue of the "Rose and Life-Giving Cross" exhibition,
Hermitage - Petropol, 1995

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© Valeria Mokeeva. 2000