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Шуракова Анна

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The Ural Mountains are a magnificent museum of geology created by Nature, almost all the elements from Mendeleev`s classification table can be found there.

The Ural green stone – malachite – is known all over the world, The mineral is the symbol of the Urals. The largest deposits of this stone are in Mednorudyanskaya mine in Nizhny Tagil. The “Malachite Hall” of Winter Palace in St. Petersburg is faced with malachite delivered from Nizhny Tagil large quantities of malachite used to be exported to Britain, France, Italy.

At the end of the 17th anl beginning of the 18th century, the centre of mining of workable malachite moved to Russia. The deposits discovered here had been but slightly touched by the ancient cultures. And not only by ore, but also of a beautiful decorative stone. I the sixties of the 18th century malachite could be encountered in practically all large mineralogical studies of Europe. Governors and government officials find themselves equally carried away by a malachiting mania.

The 19th century had been the golden age of history of malachite. The Russian, and especially the Urals’ malachite ranked highest. At that time, almost every encounter of Russia’s trade partners with Russian malachite made a sensation. All the most important and praiseworthy pieces done in malachite had come to life then. The green stone became Russia’s national pride and treasure.

The first sensational finding of this stone was made in 1835 in “Nadezhnaya pit of the Mednorudyansky mine. A pocket carring almost 380 tons splendid decorative malachite contained a monolith weighing over 40 tons. It took five years to free the gigantic pocket from the body of the rock without breaking it, and almost twelve years to take it to pieces and bring malachite to the surface.

Beginning from the first decade of the 19th century, artistic treatment of malachite was prevailing. Due to such natural peculiarities as caverns, numerous inclusions and hollows in the body of the stone, monolithic forms had to be rejected. It appeared reasonable to saw it into slabs. Such slabs found application in the classical art of Florentine mosaic, thus enriching the set of a worker in mosaic with fresh green colours on the one hand, and on the other, they brought into life an extensive variety of forms in facing. Malachite facing was practiced throughout: from cabinet and boudoir forms to gigantic vases, table-tops, mantels and even columns.

The undertaking of the Urals artisans was taken up by private shops in Europe: in Paris, Naples, Rome, Florence and London they worked to fill the orders of the Ural manufactures – the Demidovs. In the twenties of the 19th century home manufactories with their own workers in malachite had already come to life in Petersburg. It was here that, encouraged by professional artists, the foundation of sublime traditions of malachite art in Russia had been laid.

The role malachite has played in the history of the Russian and world’s stone art may just be numbered among the wonders of the world.

The first important event in the Russian monumental malachite collection was the ceremonial hall of P.N. Demidov’s mansion in Petersburg, worked up to the design of Auguste Montferrand. After it came the renowned Malachite Drawing-Room in the Winter Palace. Indeed, it deserves being called a true pearl in the set of interiors of Russian palaces.

The malachite of St. Isaac’s Cathedral arises emotions of another kind. The grandeur of the three-tier iconostasis of the Cathedral is enhanced by the powerful crescendo of the stone. Malachite here is used in the facing of eight three-quarter columns representing a most impressive Corinthian order, and of a pair of as large pilasters. The grand malachite pillars outshine everything around.

There is no other symphony in green like that in the world.

In the 20th century, malachite got into the sphere of scientific research. The study of malachite deepens our knowledge of the processers which give rise to copper and copper-iron ore deposits, offers formulation of the laws of minerals ontogeny, bringing us to grasping the principles of malachite synthesis. And as before, it is full of invariable attraction for collectors.

The stone continues to serve decorated purposes. Only today it is rarely found and jewellers use it but in small forms.

A number of museums posses single pieces wrought of malachite: The Pushkin Fine Art Museum in Moscow, the Armory, the Tretyakov Gallery, the State Historical Museum, the Kiev Museum of Russian Art, the Mining Institute in St. Petersburg, the Fersman Mineralogical Museum and the Ural Geological Museum.

Articles of today are sparse in the museums. The main part of them is accumulated in the museums of Nizhny Tagil, Ekaterinburg, in the Zagorsk State History and Fine Arts Museum.