Kolyvan Lapidary Works
The celebrated Kolyvan Vase or "Tsarina of Vases", weighing 19.2 tonnes, is a symbol of the extremely high professionalism of the stone-cutters of the Altai and irrefutable proof of the unique riches of that mountain range. It was designed by the Architect Avraam Melnikov (1784-1854). He directly supervised the extremely difficult process of working the single five-metre block of Revnev jasper, a process that took over eleven years (1831-43). This variety of stone is very hard, but at the same time brittle and unable to withstand knocks. The records show that two pedestals intended for the vase perished while being worked. The vase itself bears a large number of inset "patches", but they have been matched with such skill that they can only be spotted from close up.
The huge bowl was dispatched to St Petersburg in February 1843. Until work was completed in the New Hermitage, it was kept packed up on the Neva embankment. Only on 5 November 1849 was the Tsarina of Vases carried in through a hole in the wall and set up in the hall on a pedestal specially constructed for it.
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