St. Petersburg is an extraordinary city. In tills city grown
on the unsteady swampy soil under the gloomy Baltic sky there
have always been felt an irresistable craving for the stone
- this hard multicoloured and lasting material. Those who created
the Northern capital of Russia built stone palaces and temples,
erected triumphal arches and columns, dressed in stone die embankments
of the rivers and canals.
It was here that the first Russian stone - cutting factory appeared
and the Russian school of stone - carved small plastic forms
came to life. It took up and developed the traditions of the
craftsmen from die Urals. Splendid ashievements of the Karl
Faberge firm craftsmen seemed to be die highest point in the
development of stone-carving art. In their hands hard semi-precious
stones turned into refined figures of people, animals, birds
and handmade bouquets of flowers.
While getting acquainted with die works of die St. Petersburg
craftsmen you are pleased to realize that the old masters traditions
have not rallen into oblivion. Supported by die creative heritage
of die outstanding Russian masters our contemporaries become
highly skilled craftsmen. They go fast through die period of
apprenticeship and imitating and find their personal artistic
One of such craftsmen is Vladimir Ilukhin a sculptor and stone-carver.
His stone figures strike you by their completeness and deep
significance of die image. The main theme of his creative work
is miniature animal sculpting out of hard stone. His good knowledge
of animal anatomy, self-dependent and enthusiastic study of
palaeontology let him create his animal figures in the wide
range of form. It should be noted that in the articles of V.
Ilukhin there is a good combination of realistic forms and interesting
artistic generalization with elements of stylization and decorativeness.
Minerals of different nature, colour and hardness are used as
die material for the articles.
At sight of Ilukhiu s stone figures one cannot help remembering
the articles of the same genre of the Karl Faberge firm. But
it is hard to compare them because Ilukhin s figures are not
just funny stone toys but rather small form sculptures. In his
interpretation of die animal figures one can feel die philosophy
of die 20di -century man.
There is some irony and inner tension in ARROGANT TOAD. It is
fully expressed in the colour contrast of green and yellow,
in the smooth motion of die toad s soft body along die leaf
which has a clear-cut almost graphic pattern, in the patent
psychologism which is imparted to this creature. There is die
same psychologism and even grotesque in die composition WILD
CAT S HEAD with its peculiar sharpness and expression. Mysteriously
iridescent are die labradorite pupils of die whiskered beast
s eyes. In this defiant look all die power of the image is focused.
Such compositions as MASTER - a figure of a komodo dragon on
a rock, carved out of one solid piece of green nephrite, BLACK
MAMMOTH of spotty obsidian, WALRLTS on a quartz block of ice,
HORNED DINOSAUR and other works also rouse your interest.
Well, if there are such craftsmen who make you stop before their
works and fall to thinking. that means die traditions of die
old masters of Karl Faberge firm are still alive and earned
on in die artwork of die new generation of Russian stone-carving
Dr. Marina Lopato
Department of Artistic Metal and Stones
State Hermitage Museum