Moscow bronze: here lives artist's soul
The Russian bronze art is an original and unique phenomenon.
Russian bronze craftsmen started late but they quickly caught up
with their European teachers and surprised them with achievements
quite often. The pamphlet describing «The First public
exhibition of Russian manufactured articles» held in Saint
Petersburg in 1829, where "some bronze items" of Russian
craftsmen were displayed, pointed out: «Here comes an end
to the prejudice, which is hurting Russians' feeling since it is
widely thought that Russians are unable to make anything excellent.
To their shame, many admit that they bought Russian items in foreign
shops for prices twice as high, believing that they were French-
Today, secrets of ancient Russian craftsmen are not lost either.
The proof is the activity of the
НимбЪ (Nimbus) company, which is located near Moscow and which
specializes in bronze art castings. The very name written
and kept in Cyrillic speaks of its devotion to Russian traditions.
The company's own rich experience allows it to work faithfully in
the famous 'Russian style', which is well known and highly
valued in many countries of the world.
This style did not emerge all of a sudden or at once. Castings
were flourishing even in the so-called Kiev's Russia. When the ancient
Russian capital fell under the Tartar Mongolian hordes in the 12th
century, the country's trade and manufactories started moving to
its northern regions, such as the Tverskoe and Muscovskoe princedoms,
Velikhy Novgorod. Precisely there the production of artistic articles
began thriving. As far back as 1342, Bishop of Novgorod Vasily in
his desire to decorate Saint Sophia's Cathedral invited, "in
the name of Boris", "craftsmen of the good" from
With the rise of Moscow among Russian princedoms its dukes entrusted
their casters with the task to master the skill of making cannons.
Their production started in 1393. The cannon-making craftsmen were
highly valued: besides their direct purpose cannons were regarded
as an example of the high art and they amazed people by their rich
decor and elegant carriages.
Ancient Moscow was also famous for bells of its numerous churches
and monas-teries. Bells weighing something like 130 or 160 tons
were being cast even in the first half of the 18th century. In those
times the world-famous Czar Bell weighing 200 tons was made as well.
Casting of bells decorated with images of Saints and Czars, ingenious
ligature of church texts contributed a lot to perfecting the
bronze art casting.
Reforms by Peter the Great, which drastically changed the State
and the very principles of the Russian society, also affected very
much the development of the bronze art. Rapidly gaining strength
mining and metallurgical enterprises provided the country with enough
metals of primary importance, including copper. The Russian culture
was strongly influenced with arrivals of talented European architects,
sculptors, artists, modelers, casters. This way the foundation was
laid for establishing the national school of the bronze art.
During the years of Elizabeth the Great, in the mid-18th century,
Russia became a powerful empire having quite an influence on Europe's
affairs and refusing to yield even to royal France. The Petersburg
Court was rivaling Versailles. The acute need for the country's
own, Russian, bronze art craftsmen arose so as to replace
imported French-made articles.
The «Russian bronze art» as an independent and
original component of the national applied art emerged in the late
18th and early 19th centuries. Since then this term, as art experts
interpret it, has implied all the diversity of sculptural, applied
and decorative bronze articles, which were made in Russia and which
were mandatory attributes of interiors.
The first half of the 19th century was the time of bronze dominating
interiors of palaces, nobility's estates and town houses. During
this period there were 53 work-shops and factories of artistic bronze
in Saint Petersburg. Moscow had considerably less, only 8 workshops,
although the first one of them, Fisher's workshop, was opened as
far back as the late 18th century.
The electrotype method developed by Russian physicist Boris Yakoby
in 1839 allowed to reduce the cost of both the making of artistic
bronze and the whole process of decorating articles with patinas
as well as gilding. The technical progress stimulated the growth
of production and its reorganization. Handicraft workshops were
replaced by big enterprises with new equipment, technologies and
Russian bronze craftsmen did not avoid fashionable trends, such
as neo-baroque, neo-rococo, neo-classics. However, a special place
was occupied by the 'Russian style' featuring national ornaments
and topics. The 'office' sculptural plastics also became popular.
In the years between 1860 and 1880 patinas with the greenish and
brown color shades were widely used in Russian artistic bronze
along with galvanic gilding. More often than not this was the way
of making articles of small sculptural plastics, which reproduced
topics and images from the Russian history and folklore, scenes
from peasants' life. The theme of hunting and animals as well as
its variations became the ID card of the Russian style. The diversity
of topics and images, perfect casting, engraving and patina-making
made articles of the Russian artistic bronze widely known both in
the country and abroad.
If Petersburg's bronze craftsmen specialized in making expensive
items for shows and palaces, the Moscow ones preferred the cheaper,
heartfelt and touching, 'alive' bronze items for the gentry of the
middle and low ranks. That is why their products were distinguished
not by their palace splendor but by craftsmen' high diligence that
resulted in wonderful and colorful coziness of Moscow drawing rooms.
Today's bronze articles by the
НимбЪ company have all these features. Its range of bronze and
brass products is wide and diverse. Sculptures, basrelieves, miniature,
icons and other samples of the applied art are simply magnificent.
The delicate artistic taste and special elegancy are the distinctive
features of such interior items as candlesticks, chandeliers, lamp-brackets,
clocks, fireplace tools. The com-pany's craftsmen are also able
to make various grates and staircase barriers. They are ready to
manufacture any item by photograph or sketch provided by customer.
And they will make it in any style and form, while designing artists
will give their recommendations in this respect so as to be sure
that the choice is right.
«We do not divide orders into being
important and ordinary: they all are equally important to us. And
we are doing our best in order to make this or that item as the
only one of its kind», says Alexander Sedushkin, the director
of the НимбЪ company. And,
probably, here lies the secret of the special nature. That is the
animateness inherent in the Moscow bronze.