Completion of the Restoration of the Chariot
of Glory on the General Staff Arch
On 26 December, 2001, an official ceremony took place in Palace Square to mark the completion of the restoration of the Chariot of Glory crowning the General Staff's arch.
The Chariot of Glory atop the General Staff's arch is one of the most remarkable monuments of St. Petersburg. It is 9.94 m high and 15.62 wide, the chariot with the statues of horses is 9.59 m long. When the monument was created, hammered copper was used on a steel frame with a cast iron base.
Design of the decoration of the General Staff's arch was commissioned in March 1827 by the Emperor Nicholas I from the architect Carlo Rossi. The group of sculptures was created by the academicians Stepan S. Pimenov and Vasily I. Demut-Malinovsky in December 1828.
During 170 years of its existence the Chariot of Glory was partially repaired four times. The last restoration of the monument was carried out in 1906. In 1945, after the war, when the General Staff's facade was repaired, the sculptural group was painted green bronze color. During last 95 years the Chariot of Glory was not repaired; as a result, its condition has become very poor. During 1994-1998 the History and Culture Monument Committee jointly with the State Hermitage Museum examined the Chariot a few times.
In December 1999, the History and Culture Monument Committee commissioned Intarsia Restoration Company to perform a combined examination of the Chariot which showed that the sculptural group and its cast iron base required urgent repair. Restorers had the complicated task of repairing the base without dismantling the sculptures and restoring the supports and copper coatings.
Despite the fire that on the 2001 New Year Eve destroyed the restored sculpture, this unique monument's restoration was completed within the previously expected term. The goddess's sculpture was recreated by St. Petersburg restorers led by the cat. I restorer Vladimir G. Sorin, senior specialist of OOO Intarsia. The works were financed by the city's budget.
The restoration commenced in July 2000 was financed by the Culture Ministry of the Russian Federation, History and Culture Monument Committee and Interros Holding Company which has been for a few years the State Hermitage Museum's major Russian partner in various projects including the Greater Hermitage Project.
The restoration of the Chariot of Glory is one more important stage in the realization of the Great Hermitage Project. Already now visitors can see the exhibition Under the Sign of the Eagle: Empire Art displayed in historical interiors of the General Staff's eastern wing. Restoration works are under way in the Church, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Entrance area is ready to receive visitors. Work is continuing in the Sergey I. Shchukin and Ivan A. Morozov Memorial Gallery. According to the project, the General Staff will be turned into a modern museum complex showing collections of art of the 19th and 20th centuries.
Carlo Rossi's famous ensemble in Palace Square will regain its appearance by the three hundredth anniversary of St. Petersburg. Preparation is currently under way to restore the decor of the General Staff's arch itself. The second stage of the restoration will also be financed by Interros Holding Company.