Russian Malachite: The Malachite Room and St Isaac Cathedral

Russian malachite

Mined in the Ural Mountains from early in the 19th century Russian malachite has been used decoratively to form huge columns within buildings, useful pieces of furniture, and delicate carved artefacts.

St. Isaac Cathedral Two of the world’s largest gemstone deposits were found in the Ural Mountains of Russia in the early 19th century. Malachite stone was found in huge quantities in mines at Yekaterinburg, situated 1,650km (1,025 miles) east of Moscow, and at the Demidoff Mine at Nizhni-Tagil (160km/100 miles to the north of Yekaterinburg), where a single, banded mass contained more than 1,100 tonnes of fine material.

It has been used to make objects as large as the enormous malachite pillars of St. Isaac’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg, as well as intricately worked objects by Carl Faberge. Giant green columns made of Russian malachite and two of lapis lazuli grace the iconostatis of beatiful gold-domed, Russian Orthodox cathedral. They stand out dramatically against the white marble and gold leaf that cover the wall.
Many artifacts created using malachite from these deposits can be seen in the Hermitage Museum in Russia, and the Uffizi and St. Peter’s in Italy.

St. Isaac’s Cathedral on the banks of the River Neva in St. Petersburg is the fourth largest domed cathedral in the world. Begun in 1818, the building took 40 years to complete, and its interior contains 16 varieties of marble, granite, malachite, and lapis lazuli.
Designed by French architect Auguste de Montferrand, it incorporates eight massive malachite pillars in the mosaic-covered wall decorated with icons that separates the altar from the rest of the church.

The Malachite Room is one of the most spectacular rooms of the Winter Palace at St. Petersburg. It was rebuilt in 1837 as a drawing room for the wife of Tsar Nicholas I, Alexandra Fyodorovna, to the design of architect and painter Alexander Bryullov.

Russian Malachite - Malachite from Russia - The Malachite Room - St Isaac CathedralIt features pilasters, columns, and mantelpieces in malachite mosaic set against white walls decorated with figures representing day, night, and poetry. Gilt doors and crimson hangings complete the sumptuous interior.

The room is further ornamented with malachite vases and other artefacts made of malachite during the early 19th century, which were produced in the workshop of Peter Gambs from sketches by Auguste de Montferrand. In the late 19th century, small cupboards were added, decorated with mosaic panels produced by the Peterhof Lapidary Works.

Virtually all the malachite from which the decoration of the room was produced was derived from the Russian deposits in the Ural Mountains.

Russian malachite remains a favourite carving stone today. Malachite jewel box is a vary popular souvenier from Ural Mountains region of Russia.