65 Years of Victory in the Great Patriotic War
On 5 May, 2010 presentation of the project Triumphal Arch of Victory of architect Alexander Nikolsky, created in the Hermitage in besieged Leningrad in 1942 took place in the Armorial Hall of the Winter Palace.
The exposition presents a sheet from a series of drawings of Alexander Nikolsky, made from October 1941 to February 1942 during the siege of Leningrad. The fifth notebook of the series, to which this sheet belongs, includes sketches, made in the bomb shelter of the Hermitage, the station of the Academy of Arts, as well as cityscapes and architect’s sketches including projects of temporary triumphal arches and monuments to defenders of Leningrad. In the front page of the notebook there is an inscription: “drawn from impression of the winter 1942 in Leningrad”.
Drawings and watercolors of painters and architects, refused to evacuate from Leningrad and working in the besieged city, are valuable documents of the besieged city life. Many of them were busy at military defense works, camouflaging of airdromes and other facilities, evacuation of works of art from museums, kept duty on the roofs. By December 1941 in order to survive the most part of artists confined to barracks and lived in the Union of Artists, in cellars of the Hermitage, the Russian Museum, and the Academy of Arts, equipped as bomb shelters.
Drawings of Alexander Sergeyevich Nikolsky, one of the outstanding masters of the Soviet architecture school of prewar period became the chronicles of life in Leningrad in 1941-1942.
In the 1920-1930s he worked hard and productively in Leningrad. Nikolsky became the author of residential areas in Traktornaya Street, Serafimovsky part in Prospekt of Stachek after Narvskaya Zastava, school named after the 10th anniversary of October, club “Krasny Putilovets”, public hot baths in Lesnoy.
Alexander Nikolsky was an excellent drawer. His drawings, clearly conveying the idea of the author, built on vivid graphics, visually reveal the essence of the composition in mind to the audience. Architectural sheets of Nikolsky are considered one of the most significant examples of soviet architectural graphics.
War drawings of Nikolsky imprinted awful pictures of war with documental accuracy: ruined buildings, fires, camouflaged monuments, aerostats and barricades in the streets and squares of the city. Sketches of common life are next to the sights of the besieged Leningrad. A special place is occupied by the series of works, having become illustrations of the siege diary of the architect in 1941-1942. These pencil drawings made by Nikolsky in besieged Leningrad create the atmosphere of the besieged city with its every day heroism.
The represented drawing depicts the perspective of Stachek Prospekt near Avtovo with housing system of 1937-1941. Professional activity of Alexander Nikolsky in prewar decade, as well as the places of the fiercest defensive actions of autumn-winter 1941 was connected with this district. There is a high arch topped with a figure of the Red Army man with a rifle in hand over the prospekt. A column of tanks KV-85, first Soviet heavy tanks, being up-front in autumn-winter 1941, goes along Stachek Prospekt. In memory of defense of Leningrad a monument – tank KV-85, which is still there, was placed in Street of Morskaya Pekhota ten years after the beginning of the war.
On 22 January, 1942 Alexander Nikolsky made an entry in the diary: “I strongly believe in relief coming soon and I started to think of the project of triumphal arches to receive heroes- military forces, having released Leningrad. A specialist must be always ready – and I am getting ready, not waiting for a push from outside... I think arches are right to be designed taking into account the lack of everything: materials, physical strength of workers, and the most important thing – time”. On this basis he designed temporary arches made of plywood and fabrics, decorated as banners.
Triumphal arched in Leningrad were constructed in honor of red-carpet welcome of soldiers-winners on 8 July, 1945.
Postwar activity of architect Alexander Nikolsky was also connected with Leningrad. He continued and finished the work he started in 1932, which, according to his words, has become an affair of all his life – construction of the stadium named after S. M. Kirov on Krestovsky Island. The stadium was opened on 30 July, 1950.