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Monday, February 29, 2016

Russian Semiprecious Stones

I had no idea that Russia had so many enormous pieces of semiprecious stones until I toured the Hermitage last summer but it is rightly called the treasure house of Russian semi-
precious stone.  The physical building itself  is unbelievably ornate and impressive, just as a building, and there are so many beautiful paintings on the walls that it is easy to overlook the massive pieces of stone in the middle of almost every room.
Numerous vases, bowls, candelabra and table-tops cut out
of semiprecious stones from the Urals and Altai, and now housed in the museum, were created in the nineteenth century in the lapidary works of Peterhof, Kolyvan and Ekaterinburg.  My spouse did not like these at all, but I found them fascinating in their mammothness.

  The largest of these works is the Kolyvan vase, named so after the
town of its origin. The vase weighs almost nineteen tons and is two hundred and sixty centimetres (8.5 ft.) in height. The vase, cut from a monolith of jasper, took over fourteen years to complete, from 1829 to 1843. During the course of the work the base was divided into several
parts, whereas the bowl, five hundred and six centimetres in diameter (almost 16.5 ft.), was made from one block of stone. In spite of its enor- mous size, the vase is remarkable for its nobility of form and for the perfection of the finish.

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