The Mosaic Magic of St Isaacs Cathedral — St. Petersburg

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St. Petersburg is home to some of the biggest Christian Orthodox churches in Eastern Europe, housing a glittering array of lustrous artwork, incredible architecture and biblical scenes depictions.

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St. Isaacs Cathedral, St. Petersburg, Russia

St Isaacs Cathedral is by far the largest and most world-renowned for its stunning mosaic décor. The gorgeous, classic, decorative wall art that envelopes the interior of St Isaacs actually inspired the revival of mosaic art in Russia in the 19th Century, adding up to 62 separate masterpieces in total, covering 500 square meters!

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Everything about this place is grand, from its size, craftsmanship, architecture, to its opulent finery.

The bottom level of St Isaacs is adorned with mosaics based on sketches by T. A Neff; depicting linen-robed saints and famous, dramatic biblical scenes among its grand gold pillars and marble walls.

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Several tiers boast a range of almost unimaginable scenes made in mosaics, the product of patience, dedication and immense skill.

The second tier of the cathedral focuses on the “Passions of Christ” and the four evangelists.

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As though one looks up to the heavens, St Isaacs’ architecture is one of a kind and holy in its beauty.
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The stunning beauty of St. Isaacs’ dome
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Chandeliers, murals and warm colours make a truly renaissance scene.

The mosaic replacements were an ingenious way to re-imagine classic church art, the holy scenes could be reconceptualized. Placing tile and smelt where oil paint used to reside protected the mural art from fading, water damage and surged the interior with a unique style.

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A beautiful, painting-like mosaic fresco depicting angels and saints.

A beautiful example of this mosaic replacement is the portrayal of “The Last Supper”; referenced with sketches from mosaic artists I.P Kudrin, the decorative wall art is gorgeously renaissance, echoing towards Leonardo Da Vinci’s own conceptualization of the biblical scene.

To achieve the wonderfully rich color palate; a complex series of techniques were used; small pieces of colored smalti in over 12 000 colors were used to achieve the rich color gradients in skin and metallic tones, creases in clothing and lighting effects, meticulously placed to achieve a perfect effect when viewed from afar. A similar effect can be seen in more complex pixelated art which comes together to form a gradient when viewed at a distance, regardless of its individual tiles.

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“The Last Supper”; a beautiful reconceptualization of the classic Da Vinci.

The decorative wall art in St Isaac’s is renowned for its perfection, the quality of craftsmanship involved granted it high praise in the 1862 World Exhibition; London; where it was noted that the Russians “reached perfection in the making of smalti unmatched elsewhere in Europe”.

A mosaic fresco of Jesus surrounded by his disciples.
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Strangely moving, ineffably human and almost touchable, it is hard to imagine this holy figure is made up entirely out of tiny square tiles.

When we look at the incredibly intricate portrayal of biblical mosaic fresco, we see blood under sheer skin, glistening eyes, deep textures in fine robes; the work of true mosaic mastery.

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Mary Magdalene mosaic fresco.
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The last supper mosaic reproduction.

Are you feeling inspired to enrich your soul with the decorative wall art of orthodox Eastern Europe?

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We handcraft top-quality, unique and customizable mosaics for any surface and space. IG/FB: @MosaicsLab | Mosaicslab.com

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