Рефераты. The Archangel Cathedral

The Archangel Cathedral

At the very edge of Borovitsky Hill there rises one of the finest

edifices of the Moscow Kremlin. This is the Archangel Cathedral. As legend

goes, back in the 13th century a wooden church stood in its place, one

dedicated to the Archangel Michael, the recognized patron of the Russian

princes in their military affairs. In 1333, a whitestone church was erected

on its site to become the main princely cathedral. In 1340, Grand Prince of

Moscow Ivan Kalita was buried here. From that time on, the cathedral served

as a necropolis.

In the late 15th century, Moscow, now the capital of a powerful

centralized state, underwent another round of reconstruction and

embellishment. In 1505-1508, a new Archangel Cathedral replaced the old

one. Its erection marked the completion of the ambitious construction

project in the late 15th-early 16th century Moscow Kremlin. Built to the

design of Alevisio Novy of Italy, the Archangel Cathedral combines typical

features of the architecture of Venice of the Renaissance period, Byzantium

and Early Russia.

The Archangel Cathedral, a five-domed six-pillared edifice, is built

in brick, while its sockle and splendid decor are laid in white stone. It

was for the first time in Russia that elements of the classical system were

employed so extensively and consistently in the design of the facades. The

intricately shaped cornices produce the effect of a two-storeyed structure,

while double-tiered pilasters topped with carved capitals articulate the

facades vertically, each articulation ending in a traditional Russian

zakomara enclosing a carved whorl typical of Venetian architecture. The

architect paid special attention to the western wall, accenting with

whitestone portals the main cathedral entrance which recedes into a deep

loggia. The portals were decorated with carved ornament running over a blue

painted ground. In 1980, the carved ornament was cleaned and the original

colour was restored.

The cathedral interior is austere and simple. Six cruciform pillars

divide the space into three naves illuminated by two rows of slit-like

windows and magnificent brass chandeliers made by Moscow masters specially

for the Archangel Cathedral in the late 17th-early 18th centuries. Built

into the western wall are additional four-storey premises, a chapel with

wide windows looking out into the cathedral interior.

The Archangel Cathedral had a considerable impact on the further

development of Russia architecture. Many buildings were modelled on it in

the 16th and 17th centuries.

The Cathedral was first decorated with frescoes in 1564-1565. Some

fragments of those painting have survived in the loggia of the western

portal and in the chancel. In 1652, Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich gave orders

that “the Church of the Archangel Michael be painted up anew and the old

paintings be scraped off”. The work was completed in 1666. Taking part in

it were nearly a hundred artists from Moscow, Yaroslavl, Kastroma and other

cities, supervised by the renowned masters Stepan Rezanets and Simon

Ushakov. For many years the frescoes of the Archangel Cathedral remained

obscured by the 18th-19th century overpaint and a thick layer of dust and

soot. It was only in the 1950s that restorers happened to uncover the well-

preserved 17th century paintings. One can mow see that the vaults and upper

tiers of the southern and northern walls of the cathedral are traditionally

decorated with frescoes illustrating episodes from the Gospel. An

appreciable part of the frescoes feature miracles worked be the Archangel

Michael who helped people in their efforts to establish and consolidate

Christian faith and in their strivings towards goodness and justice. The

composition are majestic and monumental, while the radiant festive colour

gamut gives one a feeling of jubilation. Particularly vivid are the battle

scenes reminding one of the nation’s long and hard struggle for the

liberation and unification of the Russian lands. A distinctive feature of

the Archangel Cathedral collection is a vast gallery of idealized images of

historical personalities comprising over sixty conventionalized portraits

of Russian princes. Painted on the pillars are the images of Vladimir

Kievsky (died in 1015), Andrei Bogolyubky (apr. 1111-1174), Alexander

Nevsky (apr. 1220-1263) and other princes included in the pantheon of

Russian saints. The images of the princes buried in the Cathedral are

places directly over the tombstones.

The Cathedral’s four-row carved wood iconostasis dates back 1680-1682. The

icons of the upper three rows and several icons of the bottom row were

painted by Armoury artists under the supervision of the “favoured” icon-

painter Fyodor Zubov. They are done in the ehiaroscuro manner typical of

the late 17th century with certain elements of perspective arrangement. A

vast amount of restoration and research work carried out here in 1979-1980.

The oldest and most noteworthy fresco in the Archangel Cathedral is

“The Archangel Michael and His Acts” painted in the late 14th or early 15th

century. The unknown artist show the Archangel clad in armour with a raised

sword in his hand. The dynamic swing of the figure, the powerful wings and

the stern visage create the image of a warrior prepared for battle. The

ideas of eternal struggle between the good and the evil, spiritual

perfection and the defence of the native land, so popular in Early Russian

art, have found expression here.

For several centuries the Archangel Cathedral was one of the most

revered churches in Moscow. The princes and tsars came here to play their

respects to the ancestors before starting out on military campaign. The

Cathedral holds forty-six tombs of members of the families of the Russian

grand princes and tsars, covering the period from the 14th century to the

first third of the 18th century. Crucial stages in the history of the

Russian state are associated with the names of many of those entombed here,

such as the unification of the Russian lands under the aegis of Moscow

undertaken by Ivan Kalita in the 14th century; the stubborn struggle

against the Tartar-Mongols and the victory won over them in the Dmitry

Donskoy and Vladimir Khrabry; the consolidation of the Russian state and

the growth of its international prestige in the 15th and 16th centuries

under Ivan the Third and Ivan the Terrible, and also the Russian people’s

heroic liberation struggle in the 17th century in which the name of troop

commander Mikhail Skopin-Shuysky figures prominently. The interments are

under the cathedral floor. On the surface are the burial monuments, white

tombstones engraved with fine ornament and memorial inscriptions. In the

beginning of this century they were enclosed in glazed metal casing.

Resting by the south-eastern pillar under a carved white-stone canopy

is Tsarevich Dmitry, Ivan the Terrible’s son who perished in Uglich in

1591. After routing Pseudo-Dmitry the First’s troops in 1606,the remains of

Tsarevich Dmitry were moved to the Archangel Cathedral. The tombstone is

surrounded with an openwork grating, a remarkable monument of the casting

art of the first third of the 17th century. Preserved in the altar are the

relics of the holy martyrs Prince Michail of Chernigov and Boyar Fyodor who

perished in the in the Golden Horde in 1245.

In 1963-64, on the decision of a special commission, the graves of

Ivan the Terrible and his sons Ivan and Fyodor buried in the chancel

section of the Cathedral were opened, and anthropologist M.M. Gerasimov

created sculptural portraits of Tsar Ivan the Terrible and Fyodor Ivanovich

on the basis of the skeleton remains.

At present the unique monument of Russian history and culture is a

museum where optimum conditions are provided for keeping the icons,

frescoes and diverse church attributes in a good state. The museum’s

research personnel are studying both the history of its construction and

the works of art preserved here. At the same time, the Archangel Cathedral

continues to be one of the most revered sanctuaries are help regularly

several times a year.

The Archangel Cathedral will remain forever a living witness of the

history of the Kremlin, Moscow and the Russian state and immortal evidence

of the talent of its builders and artists who were able to express in

architectural forms and painted images the people’s boundless love of their

mother country.

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