Church of John the Baptist in Roshchenie (1710-17), Interior, Northwest Corner, with Frescoes, Vologda, Russia


This northwest view of the interior of the Church of the Decapitation of John the Baptist in Roshchen'e (a district in Vologda) was taken in 1999 by Dr. William Brumfield, American photographer and historian of Russian architecture, as part of the "Meeting of Frontiers" project at the Library of Congress. Before the founding of Saint Petersburg in 1703, Russia depended on a northern route through the White Sea for trade with western Europe. One of the most important centers on this route was Vologda, founded in the 12th century. A rich center of medieval Russian culture, Vologda had numerous parish churches, including one dedicated to John the Baptist. The brick structure was begun in 1710 to replace a log church from the early 17th century. The main, unheated part of the structure, used in the summer, consists of a cube supporting an octagon, a form frequently used in log churches. In 1717, a group of artists, presumably from Iaroslavl’ and under the direction of Fëdor Ignat’ev, painted the interior with frescoes. This view, with scenes from the life of Christ and John the Baptist, also shows the transition from cube to octagon. Many of these vivid frescoes were preserved into the 20th century. Their quality ensured the structure’s survival in 1924, when it was handed over to the local museum.

Last updated: January 11, 2016