Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood
The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood (Церковь Спаса на Крови) is one of the main sites of St. Petersburg, Russia. It was built on the site where Russia's Emperor Alexander II was fatally wounded in March 1881.
Many-colored domes covered with enamel by Alexander Postnikov’s masters (a famous Moscow owner of a jewelry workshop) were considered one of the cathedral’s remarkable elements. Art critic Vladimir Stasov wrote about an impression made on him by articles in “the Russian style” of a number of jewelers including Postnikov in the review of the 1873 World Exhibition in Vienna. “The most beautiful among them are those covered with enamel. Some foreigners were surprised to see things like these, because they could not find anything of this kind in Europe.” In St. Petersburg in this period there were many jewelry workshops and enterprises manufacturing silver and enamel churchplate of great artistic value. Among them was the branch of Sazikov’s firm which produced silver and gold churchplate for the consecration of St. Isaac’s Cathedral, silver engraving workshops of Morozov’s trade house, a well-known in St. Petersburg jewelry workshop of the Grachevs brothers, some firms of the Faberge House and also workshops of the city Silver Rows. Of course, the production of Moscom jewelry workshops was also well known in St. Petersburg, their masters adhering to the Russian national artistic style and widely using enamel decorations. Not every enterprise, even on condition that it could be re-equipped, was able to produce such big articles like the cathedral’s domes, as for their firing, even in parts, special kilns were needed. Coating semicircular surfaces of copper domes with enamel was a peculiar technological achievement. And if to add to this an exceptional evenness and durability of the enamel coating and intensity of its colors, then this work of Postnikov’s workshop could rightly be called a technological miracle. The committee in charge of the cathedral’s constructions originally refused to accept the architects' fantastic idea for financial reasons, but fortunately the Emperor’s brother, Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich made a contribution to perpetuate the of his father, and soon the cathedral's multi-colored domes began to glitter in the sun.
The decorative talents of Fr. Ignatius (Malyshev) and Alfred Parland, evident even in the smallest details of the cathedral decoration are most vividly revealed in its domes. This is not accidental. A note made by one of the architects explains it: “There is a folk belief that God’s angel stands at each church cross, and transfers all the prayers said in the church to the throne of the Most High. That is why I have placed a part of a prayer of St. Basil the Great on the very top of the bell-tower under the crowing cornice of the golden dome topped with the cross. The prayer says:
Immortal King, receive our prayers... and forgive us all our sins in actions, words and thoughts, made voluntarily or involuntarily.
All the architectural decorations, like small above-capital pillars with niches, the cornice, all the kokoshniks of green jasper (from which Alexander IPs sarcophagus had been made) and the tent-shaped roof of agate (that has much in common with jade) were made at the Kohrvan factory. All the stone-carving was done at the Ekaterinburg factory. Besides, all the details made of rhodonite, namely: flowers betw een the rows of kokoshniks and a low balustrade round the canopy were also manufactured there.A magnificent pyx made of jasper i greenish tints on a base made of rhodonite, three crosses of faceted rock-crystal which were to be put over the kokoshniks of the central and main iconostases were also produced at the Ekaterinburg factory The cathedral turned into a sort of treasuretrove of minerals and precious stones. No doubt, the cathedral is unique and unrivalled as far as it concerns the area covered with mosaic rands and the number and variety of precious stones used.