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Read about how the historical appearance of architectural monuments is being restored and what techniques for working with different materials are used for this in the article.

Walking through the picturesque parks, estates and other public spaces of Moscow, one cannot fail to notice how many historical objects have changed. For example, the fountains of VDNKh, which, after restoration, sparkled with bright colors.

In addition, the Dutch house on the territory of the museum-estate “Kuskovo” was prettier, and the restored facades of the Church of the Apostles Peter and Paul on Novaya Basmannaya Street and its bell tower were restored to their historical appearance. In order for all these objects to get a second life and be able to delight with their beauty for a long time, specialists of the “Pyrite-99” restoration company worked on them.

The organization took part in works on more than 50 cultural heritage sites. The craftsmen are returning their original appearance to the monuments of architectural heritage not only in Moscow, but throughout Russia. Over the past three years, they have also restored facilities in the Trans-Baikal Territory, Irkutsk, Arkhangelsk and Kostroma Regions, and the Republic of Buryatia. We tell you about the most interesting projects and unique technologies of the organization.

Restoration of the historical appearance of the VDNKh fountains

There are various restoration schools in the world. Italians are considered to be the founders of the restoration, for whom the priority is the conservation of monuments in order to maintain them in an unchanged state. However, there is a different view, to which the Russian school gravitates – this is restoration as the restoration of the historical appearance of cultural heritage objects. Thus, through thorough scientific research, analysis and comparison, it is possible to recreate, for example, a lost fragment of a monumental painting in accordance with the author’s intention.

The concept of maximum preservation of the original elements and the recreation of the lost details is adhered to by the company “Pyrite-99”. Its specialists are engaged in the restoration of cultural heritage objects and their adaptation for modern use. The activities of the company allow extending the life of many historical architectural monuments and preserving the cultural heritage for future generations.

For example, at VDNKh, the company’s specialists restored the Stone Flower and Golden Ear fountains and 14 fountains on the Central Alley based on the original sketches. In the center of the composition of the first there is a bowl in the form of a flower blooming among gems. On granite pedestals, decorated with cast-iron volutes, there are 16 bronze still-life compositions with gifts of nature from the Union republics. In a large bowl, there are small fountains in the form of cast-iron sturgeons and bronze geese.


In addition to geese, the lost cast-iron sculptures of sturgeons were also recreated from the surviving samples. They put in order the surviving fish and decorative branches of a stone flower with gilding. Also, after the restoration, a flower garden appeared around the fountain, as it was in 1954.

14 fountains on the Central Alley were not left without attention either. Experts have recreated concrete bowls and renewed the granite cladding, restored cast-iron decorative details, and restored the artistic look to the elements of the composition.

The subtle art of working with smalt

The most interesting works, according to the specialists of “Pyrite-99”, are connected with the creative process, which is necessary for the restoration. When creating the “Stone Flower” the architect Konstantin Topuridze was inspired by the tales of Pavel Bazhov from the collection “Malachite Box”. However, a long time has passed since the opening of the fountain in 1954, and the flower with gems faded. The same misfortune befell another VDNKh fountain, the Golden Ear.

During the restoration of these two objects, the main difficulty was the competent work with smalt. To decorate the Stone Flower, experts used such types of smalt as colored marblite made of opaque dull glass, multi-colored cantarella made of sheets of gold leaf of different shades, as well as silver smalt. The “Golden Ear” fountain is faced with gold and muffled smalt of different shades. Depending on the temperature and time, even from the same components, you can get different colors and textures.

During the restoration process, you first need to determine the true color and texture of the historical smalt. In this case, the masters faced a difficult task. Smalt was covered with a layer of sulphates and oxides, which had been deposited for decades since the opening of the fountains. Ultraviolet solar radiation also contributed. Losses on some elements reached 100 percent, for example, on crystals of the Stone Flower fountain.

“Clearing of smalt was carried out in various ways: from mechanical with the use of chemicals to laser cleaning. A huge amount of work has been done to determine the historical colors of smalt and to develop technologies for obtaining smalt of the same color and texture. We can now see the result of this work at VDNKh: at the Stone Flower fountain, all six petals of the flower are completely different in artistic composition and each contains more than 15 thousand pieces of smalt. After the restoration, even for us it was unusual to see the dazzling brilliance and play of colors, which fully corresponded to the author’s intention. These unique works were carried out by a team of our restorers of various specialties using a variety of technologies, and I am proud that I was directly involved in this, ”stressed Alexander Urbansky.

On a clear sunny day, bright smalt pieces and almost a thousand water jets create an amazing play of light. The magic flower from the fairy tale about the mistress of the Copper Mountain really comes to life in the evening, when the backlight turns on.

Return of historical appearance

It was not easy to return the former splendor to the facades of the unique temple of the early 18th century – the Church of the Apostles Peter and Paul on Novaya Basmannaya Street. The specialists of “Pyrite-99” had to work hard to restore the white-stone plinth, decorative elements of the bell tower, and the roof.

Peter I himself had a hand in creating the project of the temple, who, in turn, was influenced by a journey through the cities of Germany and Denmark in 1697-1698. The head of the temple bears in itself foreign features and in style rather resembles a German church.

The facades of the bell tower ensemble and the church itself were renovated in 2020.

“The facades with rich white-stone baroque decorative elements were restored, the roof truss system, which had fallen into disrepair, the copper roof and hidden copper elements of the white-stone facade decor were restored, work on the gilding of crosses was carried out. I would especially like to note the technical complexity of the work on the bell tower during the restoration of the white-stone columns supporting the cornices. All columns have vertical cracks. This happened as a result of deep corrosion of the metal vertical forged rods inside them. In addition, corrosion of the metal brackets connecting two parallel white stone blocks led to the destruction of most of the blocks. In this regard, 48 columns were completely restored with the replacement of metal rods, brackets, ”explains the general director of“ Pyrite-99 ”.

In the process of carrying out work in the church of the Apostles Peter and Paul, a small restoration opening was made. On the front of the temple from the side of Novaya Basmannaya Street, experts found a white-stone portal with carved decor. It has been hidden under a thick layer of plaster for over 60 years. The craftsmen carried out a large and complex work on the restoration and reconstruction of the white-stone portal.

In addition, a fragmentary preserved painting made in 1724 was found in the interiors of the temple.

“In the interiors of the temple, the wall glue and oil paintings deserve attention. Painting has five chronological layers. Of particular interest is a cleared fragment of a Baroque painting dating back to the first half or the middle of the 18th century, which is the rarest example of monumental painting of this time for Moscow, ”says Alexander Urbansky.

As a result of long and painstaking work, the temple acquired the appearance that can be seen in photographs from the second half of the 19th – first half of the 20th century.

The company “Pyrite-99” has been restoring architectural monuments since 1999. These are not only cultural heritage sites, but also industrial buildings and residential buildings. Among the restored capital’s monuments are the Epiphany Church, the Red Bell Church of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, objects on the territory of the Novospassky Monastery ensemble, the building of the Gogol House Museum and others.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and or sentence structure not be perfect.

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