December 23, 2011

Cathedral of St. Prokopii of Ustiug, Interior, Upper Tiers of Icon Screen, Velikii Ustiug, Russia

This interior view, east toward the iconostasis, of the Cathedral of Saint Prokopii of Ustiug at Velikii Ustiug (Vologda Oblast) 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. Saint Prokopii was a 13th-century German merchant who converted to Orthodoxy in Novgorod in the 1240s and eventually moved to remote Ustiug, where he undertook a 30-year period of self-abnegation as a iurodivyi (Fool in Christ). Accounts of miracles accumulated after his death in 1303, and in 1547 he was canonized (the earliest iurodivyi to be recognized by the church). This cathedral, built of brick by Master Pëtr Kotelnikov, dates from 1668. It was built with the support of Metropolitan Jonah of Rostov and the merchant Afanasii Guselnikov. In 1724, the ceiling vaults and cupolas were rebuilt. The magnificent five-tiered gilded icon screen also dates from the early 18th century, and survived the Soviet period intact. Visible here are the upper tiers: the Festival Row; the Deesis Row (with Christ Enthroned in the center); the Prophets Row; and the Patriarchs Row. The Crucifixion scene at the top is here obscured by a silver-plated candelabra (panikadilo). The church was returned to the parish in 1995.

Church of St. Nicholas Gostunskii (Gostinnyi) (1680s, 1720s), with Bell Tower (1720s), Northwest View, Velikii Ustiug, Russia

This northwest view of the bell tower and Church of Saint Nicholas Gostunskii at Velikii Ustiug (Vologda Oblast) was taken in 1996 by Dr. William Brumfield, American photographer and historian of Russian architecture, as part of the "Meeting of Frontiers" project at the Library of Congress. During the medieval period, Ustiug became an important center not only for trade, but also for missionary activity by the Orthodox Church. Commerce and faith are combined in the Church of Saint Nicholas Gostunskii, which was built in the 1680s on a bluff above the Sukhona River, near the town's main trading square. (In some sources the church is named "Gostinyi," an honorific for "merchant".) The church was the first in Ustiug to be constructed in two levels, of which the lower, with an altar dedicated to saints Zosima and Savvaty, was used for worship in the winter. The structure was partially rebuilt in the 1720s, at which time a bell tower was erected to the north of the church. The ensemble is remarkable for its decorative details outlined in black on whitewashed brick facades. The church culminates in a tower of octagons supporting a cupola. The interior of the upper church has no piers and is amply lit by large windows. During the Soviet period, the church was, for a time, used as a saw mill. A restoration in 1986 converted it into a gallery of local art.

Church of the Ascension (1648-49, 1670s, 1742), East View, Velikii Ustiug, Russia

This east view of the Church of the Ascension in Velikii Ustiug (Vologda Oblast) was taken in 1996 by Dr. William Brumfield, American photographer and historian of Russian architecture, as part of the "Meeting of Frontiers" project at the Library of Congress. Of the town's many remarkable churches, the most intricately decorated is the Church of the Ascension, endowed by the merchant Nikifor Reviakin. Built in 1648-49 in a florid, 17th-century Muscovite style, it is the town’s oldest extant structure, although with additions from the 1670s and 1742. In this view, the decoration begins with the ceramic window surrounds on the tripartite apse. The main structure of whitewashed brick is covered with patterns that ascend to an elaborate cornice and three rows of decorative gables (kokoshniki). The festive display concludes with five domes over decorated cylinders, or drums. Like many Russian churches, the Church of the Ascension has chapels (pridely) attached to the main structure. The Chapel of the Resurrection (on the right) is in effect a second church and rivals the main church in decoration, which includes ceramic tiles and its own exterior stairway. In addition to the primary altar, the chapel also has an altar dedicated to Tsarevich Dmitrii, as well as altars on the lower level dedicated to the Epiphany and the Elevation of the Cross.

Church of St. Nicholas Gostunskii (Gostinnyi) (1680s, 1720s), with Bell Tower (1720s), East View, Velikii Ustiug, Russia

This east view of the bell tower and Church of Saint Nicholas Gostunskii at Velikii Ustiug (Vologda Oblast) was taken in 1996 by Dr. William Brumfield, American photographer and historian of Russian architecture, as part of the "Meeting of Frontiers" project at the Library of Congress. During the medieval period Ustiug became an important center not only for trade, but also for missionary activity by the Orthodox Church. Commerce and faith are combined in the Church of Saint Nicholas Gostunskii, which was built in the 1680s on a bluff above the Sukhona River near the town's main trading square. (In some sources the church is named "Gostinyi," an honorific for "merchant".) The church was the first in Ustiug to be constructed in two levels, of which the lower, with an altar dedicated to saints Zosima and Savvaty, was used for worship in the winter. The lower chapel (visible in the center) was rebuilt in the 1720s and a bell tower was erected to the north of the church. The ensemble is remarkable for its decorative details outlined in black on whitewashed brick facades. The church culminates in a tower of octagons supporting a cupola. The interior of the upper church has no piers and is amply lit by large windows. During the Soviet period the church was, for a time, used as a saw mill. A restoration in 1986 converted it into a gallery of local art.

Church of the Ascension (1648-49, 1670s, 1742), Interior, East Wall and Icon Screen, Velikii Ustiug, Russia

This view of the iconostasis in the Church of the Ascension in Velikii Ustiug (Vologda Oblast) was taken in 1998 by Dr. William Brumfield, American photographer and historian of Russian architecture, as part of the "Meeting of Frontiers" project at the Library of Congress. Settled by Russians as early as the 12th century, Velikii Ustiug became an important center during the medieval period not only for trade, but also for missionary activity by the Orthodox Church. Of the town's many churches, the most floridly decorated is the Church of the Ascension, endowed by the merchant Nikifor Reviakin and built in 1648-49 in a florid, 17th-century Muscovite style. The magnificent five-tiered icon screen was completed circa 1750, making it one of the first of Ustiug's remarkable baroque iconostases. This view includes all five tiers: the Local Row, with the Royal Gate (intricately carved and gilded) in the center; the Festival Row; the Deesis Row, with Christ Enthroned; the Prophets Row; and the Patriarchs Row. The tiers culminate in a large carved crucifix, with a background wall painting of Jerusalem. This soaring construction concludes at the top of the vaulting with a depiction of the Ascension, flanked by carved angels in red robes. The artists' vision fully utilizes the architectural space.

Archangel Michael Monastery, Archangel Cathedral (1653-56), Cupolas (Late 18th Century), West View, with Church of Pentecost (or St. Kiprian) (1710), in Foreground, Velikii Ustiug, Russia

This northwest view of the monastic Cathedral (sobor) of Archangel Michael in Velikii Ustiug (Vologda Oblast) was taken in 1996 by Dr. William Brumfield, American photographer and historian of Russian architecture, as part of the "Meeting of Frontiers" project at the Library of Congress. Settled by Russians as early as the 12th century, Velikii Ustiug rapidly became a center of trade and missionary activity. Medieval chronicles indicate that the Archangel Michael Monastery, one of the oldest in the Russian north, was founded by the venerable monk Kiprian in 1212. In 1653 its ancient, multidomed log cathedral, dedicated to the Archangel Michael, made way for a large brick structure endowed by the merchant Nikifor Reviakin. Completed in 1656, the structure is elevated on a high base (podklet) and has five domes and four interior piers. The upper walls are decorated with curved gables (zakomary) beneath the straight cornice of the roof. This rectangular form is enclosed within a gallery containing remarkable frescoes on the trials of monastic life. The northwest corner is anchored by a bell tower (visible on the far left) with a tent tower. In the shadowed foreground is the small Church of Mid-Pentecost (1710), also known as the Church of Saint Kiprian, built over the grave of the monastery's founder.