Sunday, July 26, 2009

Kiev



St. Andrew's Church was built on the express order of Empress Elizabeth Petrovna to the 1748 design of outstanding Russian architect Bartholomeo Rastrelli. In 1749—1754, the construction was carried out under the guidance of Ivan Michurin, an architect from Moscow. This structure is the result of fruitful collaboration between both Russian and Ukrainian architects, for quite a number of specialists from St. Petersburg, Moscow and Kyiv were involved in the construction.

Several times during the nineteenth century, the church roofs were repaired, and this re-sulted in the deformation of the dome's initial outline and a loss of exterior decor. The monument remained in this state until the 1970s.
From 1917 to 1953, work to reinforce the foundations and protect the building from subsoil water was carried out, the facades were repaired and the pictorial works conserved.
In 1970 at the request of the St. Sophia Museum staff, the Albertine Museum in Vienna sent the photocopies of Rastrelli's drawings of St. Andrew's Church. In 1978, based on the architect's drawings, the Kyiv restorers headed by architect V. Korneyeva restored the dome to its original form. Today, returned to its original appearance, the church is open to the public as a monument of Russian and Ukrainian architecture.
St. Andrew's Church was built in the Baroque style current in the architecture and art of the late seventeenth — mid-eighteenth century. Borrowed from West-European art, this style was influenced by local architectural traditions and acquired unique national features. Baroque structures are marked by festive, elegant form, a dynamic arrangement of archi-tectural elements and lavish decor. Also typical are the contrasting coloring of the wall surfaces as well as an extensive use of gilt. St. Andrew's Church incorporates all these features. To build the church on a hill, the architects resorted to a unique method: the structure's basement was erected in the form of a residential house adjoining the slope. A wide stairway of iron leads from the street to the balustrade-enclosed parvis.
The exterior displays infinite richness of decor. The walls and drums of the domes are articulated through pilasters and Corinthian (in the first tier) and Ionic (in the second) columns. The basement, the walls and the drums are ornamented with intricately profiled cornices. The lucames are framed with lavish stuccowork, and the pediments feature wrought-iron cartouches bearing the monogram of Empress Elizabeth. The picturesque effect is enhanced by bright coloring: the white columns, pilasters and cornices stand out against the turquoise background of the walls; the capitals and wrought-iron cartouches are gilded. Winding gilded garlands adorn the domes, which are painted dark-green.
The ornamentation of the interior is similar to that used outside. The articulation of wall surfaces through vertical members is complemented by profuse gilt stuccowork adorning the window frames and domes.
The iconostasis is central to the interior decor of the church. This three-tiered structure is characterized by soft, curved outlines. The gilt pilasters, cornices and ornate icon frames of carved wood contrast marvellously to the purple background of the iconostasis featuring icons of various shapes and dimensions. The Royal Gates are covered with carved wooden lattice-work. The decor of the iconostasis incorporates pieces of statuary: heads of cherubs and Figures of angels; The Crucifixion sculptural group crowns the iconostasis.
Rastrelli supervised the interior decoration. He not only designed the entire iconostasis, but also made drawings and moulds according to which woodcutters losiph Dornash and Andrei Karlovsky of St. Petersburg made all the individual elements of the iconostasis. It was installed in Kyiv by craftsman Johann Grot.
Behind the iconostasis in the apse, there are altar canopies on twisted columns adorned with garlands of flowers. Of interest is a pulpit supported by two gilded figures of angels. Painting occupies an important place in the interior design of St. Andrew's Church. It includes eighteenth-century productions, icons from the iconostasis, the painting on the pulpit, and the oil paintings decorating the cupola. Most of the icons (some 25 pieces) were executed by artist I. Vishnyakov of St. Petersburg with a group of his students. The paintings on the reverse side of the iconostasis were done by Ukrainian artists I. Romensky and I. Chaikovsky. Of great value are the works by the talented Russian painter Alexei Antropov. Among them. The Last Supper in the chancel, a number of icons in the icono-stasis, and other works adorning the pulpit and the cupola. The icon Assumption bears his signature.
Though the paintings in St. Andrew's Church are based on religious themes, their manner of execution is entirely secular, and they exemplify realistic, life-asserting art devoid of reli-gious ascetism. Typical of St. Andrew's Church painting are extravagant postures, rich clothing, an abundance of mundane details and an interest in landscape and still-life. The painting in the church is concordant with the woodcutting, the stuccowork, and the build-ing's overall structure.
On the western walls of the transept are two nineteenth-century compositions Prince Vla-dimir Chooses the Faith by an anonymous painter and St. Andrew Preaching a Sermon by Platon Borispolets. The subjects of these historical canvases executed in a Classicist manner were borrowed from chronicles of Old Rus.
The spacious, festive, sunlit interior of St. Andrew's Church gives the impression of a formal hall in a palace. As far as its artistic style, daring conception, and harmonious blending with the natural scenery of the hillside, St. Andrew's Church is considered a gem of eight-eenth-century Russian and Ukrainian architecture.
In 1968, St. Andrew's Church was proclaimed a historical monument to be preserved by the state.