William C. Brumfield


      Photos 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 27, 28, 29, 30, 41, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, 18, 19, 20, 21, 26, 38, 40, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 50

Vologda Province, located some 400 kilometers northeast of Moscow, is one of the largest territories in European Russia, with a size rivaling that of countries such as Hungary or Bulgaria. Although the province (or oblast, as such administrative regions are known in Russian) is overwhelmingly rural, it also contains a number of settlements whose historical references date as far back as the twelfth century. The cultural and political center of this region is the city of Vologda, the subject of my article "Photographic Documentation of Architectural Monuments in the Russian North: Vologda, Visual Resources (Vol. 12, No. 2). But the historical, cultural, and architectural legacy of this territory extends far beyond the city. The present study is devoted to an analysis and photographic documentation of the primary architectural monuments in the Vologda territory beyond Vologda itself.

      With the rise of the Muscovite principality in the fourteenth century and the establishment of a metropolitanate of the Orthodox Church in Moscow itself, the church began to play an essential role for the advancement of Moscow's position in this area of the north. In particular, the founding of monasteries by clerics from Moscow's own monasteries provided not only places of spiritual refuge and retreat, but also centers of Muscovite influence. The two most influential of these monastic institutions, and the sites of the earliest extant masonry structures in the area, are the St. Kirill Belozerskii Monastery, and the nearby Ferapontov Monastery (1). Both are located considerably to the north of Vologda, near the confluence of the Sheksna River and the White Lake (Beloe ozero). This water network connected the monasteries to the central regions of Muscovy, as well as to Vologda, and endowed them with a strategic importance that aided their growth as Moscow's outposts.

      The first monastery, formally dedicated to the Dormition of the Virgin, was founded in 1397 on Siverskoe Lake, seven kilometers to the east of the Sheksna River. Its founder, Kirill (Cyril; 1337-1427), was a monk of noble birth who had served at the Simonov Monastery in Moscow and in 1390 became its hegumen. By leaving this prestigious position and coming to the northern territory of Muscovy in 1397, he not only achieved the ascetic life valued by the pioneers of Muscovite monasticism, but he also furthered territorial claims of the Moscow grand prince. As one who frequently advised the sons of Dmitrii Donskoi, Kirill was familiar with the political conditions that drove Moscow's northern expansion. Indeed, the monastery's importance as both a religious center and as an anchor of Muscovy's northern flank was recognized by the canonization of Kirill in the fifteenth century and the naming of the entire monastic ensemble- consisting of two adjacent monasteries, the Dormition and John the Baptist-for St. Kirill Belozerskii (2).

      During the first century of its existence, the Dormition Monastery was built entirely of logs, but in the summer of 1496 a master builder from Rostov known as Prokhor, along with twenty masons, rebuilt in brick the main monastery church, dedicated to the Dormition (Photos 1, 2). In view of its remote location, the Dormition Cathedral is not among Russia's largest, nor was its design comparable to major Muscovite churches erected under the supervision of Italian architects arriving in Moscow in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, during the reigns of Ivan III (the Great) and Vasilii III (3).

      Instead, the form of the Dormition Cathedral resembles that of the more primitive limestone Muscovite churches of the late fourteenth century. However, brick had by now become the primary building material of masonry churches, although carved limestone blocks were still used for details, such as the perspective portals on the north, west, and south facades. The Dormition Cathedral has a cross-inscribed plan with four piers supporting corbelled arches leading to a single drum and cupola. The apsidal structure was divided into three parts, each of which had a separate sloped roof in a halved conical shape. The upper walls originally culminated in at least two, and probably three, rows of decorative gables known as kokoshniki (4). Other exterior decorative elements, such as terra cotta balusters set in an ornamental band at the top of the walls, resemble fifteenth-century Muscovite details. In the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries the church underwent several modifications, including the construction of three attached churches (a typical occurrence in medieval Russia): the diminutive Church of St. Vladimir (1554), the Church of St. Epifanii of Cyprus (built in 1645 on the north facade of the Vladimir Church for use as a burial chapel for the Teliatevskii princely family); and at the southeast corner of the Dormition Cathedral, a church dedicated to St. Kirill (constructed in 1585 over the site of his burial and rebuilt in 1781-84) ( Photos 3, 4, 5).

      Other additions to the Dormition Cathedral include a parvis built along the north and west walls at the end of the sixteenth century. The north parvis was rebuilt in the seventeenth century, and the one on the west disappeared entirely with the building of a much larger, awkward entrance structure in 1791. Perhaps the most destructive changes occurred in the eighteenth century, when the kokoshniki of the upper structure were replaced with a four-sloped roof. Despite these changes, the basic form of the original cathedral has survived, and provides much information on the building and design capabilities of northern masons at the turn of the sixteenth century.

      As the sixteenth century progressed the St. Kirill Belozerskii Monastery received major donations that made it one of the largest such institutions in Russia, second in size only to the Trinity-St. Sergius Monastery near Moscow. In 1519 the monastery refectory and its attached Church of the Presentation of the Virgin were rebuilt in brick. The church itself is situated at the eastern end of the refectory axis, with a polygonal east wall elevated on a high socle and originally culminating in rows of kokoshniki, over which was a single brick drum and cupola (Photo 27). The interior of the church was cruciform in shape, with a groin vault. Unfortunately, the original vaults and upper structure disappeared with subsequent rebuilding, but the height of the east wall suggests an early development in the design of tower churches that would play such a distinctive role in sixteenth-century Muscovite architecture.

      The next two brick churches of the St. Kirill Monastery are in somewhat better condition, although they too have suffered from later modifications. The Church of the Archangel Gabriel was constructed in 1531 34 with support provided by Vasilii III, grand prince of Moscow, who in 1528 had made a pilgrimage to the monastery with his second wife, Elena Glinskaia, to pray for the birth of a male heir (Photos 28, 29, 30, 41). Situated near the southwest corner of the Dormition Cathedral, the Archangel Church has a cross-inscribed plan, with four interior piers and a tripartite apsidal structure. The high walls of the main cube concluded not in zakomary, but in a row of bell gables (not preserved), behind which were two ascending rows of kokoshniki (5) (Semicircular gable ends at the top of walls are called zakomary and play a role in supporting the superstructure; kokoshniki are primarily ornamental).

      The second of the churches commissioned by Vasilii III at the monastery was dedicated to John the Baptist. Also built in 1531-34, it shares certain stylistic features with the Archangel Gabriel Church, including a roofline that originally culminated in kokoshniki (Photos 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 39). Situated beyond the original Dormition Monastery walls near a small chapel erected by St. Kirill, this church became the nucleus of a "small" (malyi) Monastery of John the Baptist that complemented the Dormition to form the ensemble of St. Kirill Belozerskii Monastery. Because of similarities in style and date of construction for the Archangel and John the Baptist churches, some Russian specialists consider them to be the work of one architect-possibly Grigorii Borisov from Rostov (6).

      Other churches erected at the Kirillov Monastery during the late sixteenth century include the Gate Church of St. John Climacus (Photos 22, 23, 24, 25), which provides an imposing entrance to the monastery complex. The function of the monastery as a fortress was severely tested at the beginning of the seventeenth century, during the "Time of Troubles". Although the monastery withstood a .prolonged siege, the surrounding villages--so necessary for the support of the monastery, were severely damaged. During the second half of the seventeenth century, Muscovite rulers, and particularly Tsar Aleksei Mikhailovich, decided to reinforce the monstery walls against another possible attack from the north and west. The current massive walls--although never tested in battle--are among the last great works of medieval Russian masonry architecture (Photos 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, 18, 19, 20, 21, 26, 38).

      The earliest extant masonry church in the Sheksna-White Lake region is located in the second of the area's monastic institutions, the Monastery of the Nativity of the Virgin, founded in 1398 on the shores of Lake Borodava some twenty kilometers northeast of the St. Kirill Belozerskii monastery ensemble (Photos 40, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48). Its founder, Ferapont (1337-1426), had also been a monk at Moscow's Simonov Monastery, and had accompanied Kirill on his journey to the north (7). Within a year of the establishment of the Dormition Monastery on Siverskoe Lake, Ferapont left to form his own spiritual retreat. Like Kirill, Ferapont was of noble birth and well acquainted with the power structure of the Muscovite state. Ferapont was canonized in the sixteenth century, and the northern monastery that he founded came to be known as the Ferapontov, while retaining its original dedication to the Nativity of the Virgin.

      The monastery's first masonry structure, the brick Cathedral of the Nativity of the Virgin, was built in 1490, six years earlier than the Dormition Cathedral at the St. Kirill Monastery. Both churches share a relatively simple cross-inscribed plan, with four piers and a single drum and cupola. The Nativity is smaller, but shows a greater refinement of proportions, in part because of its elevation on a raised base, or podklet (Photo 50). Like the Dormition Cathedral at St. Kirill Monastery, the upper walls of the Nativity Cathedral were substantially modified from the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries, but they originally led to three rows of decorative, ogival kokoshniki, the first row of which was a direct extension of the walls.

      The most extensively decorated part of the exterior is the west facade. Although it is now covered by an elevated porch, or parvis, constructed around the middle of the sixteenth century, this facade had an ornamental ceramic strip above the socle (podklet), and the zakomary were filled with decorative brick patterns in the style of fourteenth-century brick churches in Pskov (8). In their original form both the Dormition and Nativity Cathedrals apparently culminated in a simple low cupola, replaced in the eighteenth century with a hypertrophied, double-tiered baroque cupola. According to archival documents the cupola of the Nativity Cathedral was originally covered in "white iron" (tin), which was replaced in the early eighteenth century with wooden shingles. The current dome and the conversion of the kokoshniki into a four-sloped roof appeared in 1794-97 (9).

      The west portal was framed with ogival perspective arches of molded brick and was surrounded by frescoes devoted to the Nativity of the Virgin Mary. Although partially damaged by the construction of the parvis in the sixteenth century, the frescoes were afforded a greater measure of protection from the climate by that same construction, and they have survived relatively intact. They are, in fact, excellent examples of the work of one of the most important medieval Russian artists, Dionisii, who with the assistance of his two sons painted the interior of the Nativity Cathedral in 1502 (10). The fact that such a renowned artist, accustomed to commissions for frescoes and icons from the court of Grand Prince Ivan III/ should engage in extensive work far to the north is further evidence of the close relations between these monasteries and the center of political and ecclesiastical power in Moscow. Indeed/ the hegumen who commissioned the rebuilding of the church in brick and the painting of the frescoes was Ioasaf/ former archbishop of Rostov and a member of one of Russia's most prominent noble families/ the Obolenskiis.

      Due to the remote location of the small Ferapontov Monastery/ the frescoes on both interior and exterior of the Nativity Cathedral were not frequently overpainted and are relatively well preserved/ despite modifications to the structure of the church. These changes include not only the addition of the parvis on the north/ west and south sides/ but also the construction of two attached churches: the Church of the Annunciation (1530 31; see below), and the Church of St. Martinian (1640), with its tent tower. On the west side/ the ensemble is linked by a raised gallery/ which extends from the parvis to the Annunciation Church/ with a seventeenth-century bell tower situated near the midpoint (Photos 52, 54).

      In addition to the two churches endowed by Vasilii III at St. Kirill Monastery/ the grand prince commissioned a third/ at Ferapontov Monastery/ as part of the same votive offering. There has been some uncertainty as to the precise dates of construction for the Refectory Church of the Annunciation/ but recent research indicates that it was built in 1530-31/ again possibly by Grigorii Borisov." As at the St. Kirill Monastery/ the church and refectory were elevated on a podklet, with the church extending on the east. In a design common to northern monasteries/ the refectory church was heated by air ducts from the scullery stoves located on the ground floor/ or podklet.

      Because of its modest size/ the Annunciation Church has no interior piers. Yet the vertical development is increased through a second tier/ whose interior is in the shape of a cylinder/ with small chambers attached. On the north and east sides/ the exterior walls of the chambers form bell gables/ a device also used in the Archangel Gabriel Church. Above the second tier are three rows of kokoshniki (recently restored) and a drum with cupola.

      During the five decades after the completion of the three churches donated by Vasilii III at the St. Kirill and Ferapontov Monasteries construction began on other masonry churches throughout the Vologda and White Lake territories. In the immediate area of Vologda the earliest significant masonry structure is the Cathedral of the Savior at the Savior-Prilutskii Monastery. Established in 1371, the Savior-Prilutskii Monastery was supported by Moscow's grand prince Dmitrii Ivanovich (Donskoi) as one of the first bulwarks of Orthodox Moscow in the rich but difficult terrain surrounding Vologda (12). The original buildings, including the main church, were of logs. After its destruction by fire, the Cathedral of the Savior was rebuilt in brick during 1537-42 with substantial support from Moscow, including a decree issued in 1541 by the young Ivan IV releasing the monastery from all taxes for a period of five years. Larger than the cathedrals at St. Kirill and Ferapontov Monasteries, the Savior Cathedral is similar to other major monastery churches whose design derived from the main Kremlin cathedrals. At the same time, it displays distinctive elements that link it to its northern predecessors.

      The cathedral walls support two rows of curved structural gables, or zakomary, leading to a clearly spaced ensemble of five drums and cupolas. The upper parts of the drums show ornamental brickwork in the Pskov style, which had been assimilated throughout Muscovy in the fifteenth century, although not in the Kremlin cathedrals. The main cupola, much larger than the flanking four, creates a strong vertical point to the pyramidal shape. The height of the structure is increased by a podklet, or socle, which contained a separate church for use primarily in the winter (a feature typical of Muscovite churches). The interior of the Savior Cathedral, whose white-washed walls were never painted with frescoes, possesses an austere monumentality displayed in the ascent from the four piers to the corbelled, vaults (reflected in the exterior zakomary) that support the cupola drums. The vaulting is reinforced with iron tie rods. A raised gallery attached to the north, west, and south facades leads on the southeast corner to a refectory and Church of the Presentation, built in the late 1540s in a style similar to the refectory churches at St. Kirill and Ferapontov monasteries, with a roof of decorative kokoshniki ascending to a single cupola. The ensemble is completed by a bell tower, rebuilt in 1729-30 on a seventeenth-century base.

      The line of development represented by the three main monastery churches-(in Russian, sobor, or "cathedral")-discussed above would lead to the Cathedral of St. Sophia in Vologda, built in 1568-70 to a design based on the Dormition Cathedral in the Moscow Kremlin (13). During the same period, Anika Strogranov, founder of the most dynamic branch of the Stroganov dynasty, endowed the Church of the Annuncation (1560 early 1570s) at Solvychegodsk, the center of the family's commercial empire on the Vychegda River (14). A century later, Grigorii Stroganov supported the rebuilding in brick of the cathedral of the Presentation Monastery (1688-1690s). These two churches are important examples of late medieval architecture in the Russian north, but they are situated in what is now Arkhangelsk province, beyond the already extensive limits defined at the beginning of this article.

      In fact Solvychegodsk is situated only some ninety kilometers north of the town of Velikii Ustiug which anchors the northeast corner of the Vologda region and comprises a major architectural ensemble in its own right. The terrain is defined by the confluence of two large rivers, the Sukhona and the lug, which merge to form a third-the Northern Dvina (15). This network of three navigable rivers formed part of a transportation network that attracted the earliest Russian settlers there, apparently by the middle of the twelfth century. The mercantile city of Novgorod sent its traders to the region, and until the middle of the fifteenth century, Novgorod lay claim to authority over the area. Velikii Ustiug ultimately cast its lot with Moscow, however, and became an important military post for the expanding Muscovite state. Despite the severe northern climate and the great distances between major settlements, Ustiug thrived in the sixteenth century, particularly with the development of trade between Russia and England and Holland during the reign of Ivan the Terrible.

      Like most northern towns, Ustiug was built almost entirely of wood, and fire was a constant menace. As a result there are no surviving churches before the middle of the seventeenth century. As trade with western Europe expanded in the seventeenth century, Ustiug's merchants and churches acquired wealth that created some of the town's early brick churches. The main cathedral, dedicated to the Dormition of Mary, was built in brick during the 1550s, but had to be rebuilt a century later, after a major fire damaged the walls. Funds to complete the reconstruction were provided by Tsar Aleksei Mikhailovich and by the Bosykh family, local merchants of considerable wealth. In the eighteenth century, the cathedral was modified still further. It is now flanked by three other churches, of which the most impressive is the Cathedral of St. Procopius of Ustiug, built in 1668 (16). These churches are now being returned to active parish use, although I was told that many problems of restoration and maintenance remain.

      Despite the current difficult economic situation, progress in preserving the historic architecture of Ustiug is clearly visible. The oldest structure to survive in its original form is the Church of the Ascension, built in 1648-49 in the style of a Moscow parish church, with a highly ornamented, asymmetrical grouping of volumes. The Church of St. Nicholas Gostunskii (late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries), with its remarkable detached bell tower, shows a greater precision of form. The low-relief, scrolled baroque ornament on the tower is traced in black in a manner reminiscent of the town's most famous craft technique-niello. Two decades ago this church was still being used as a saw mill because of its location on the bank of the Sukhona River. It has since been restored on the exterior, and is now used as a gallery to display the work of local painters (17).

      Further to the south along the Sukhona is the late baroque Church of St. Simeon the Stylite (1760s), which also has a large, free-standing bell tower near its northwest corner. The design of the church is heavily derived from Petersburg architecture of the reign of empress Elizabeth. Like much of the central part of Ustiug, the west facade of this church forms a picturesque silhouette when seen from the river. The eastern approach, however, has an appearance of its own, with lanes that wander between small wooden houses and gardens. In such areas one has a sense of what the town might have looked like in the eighteenth century.

      Although the development of St. Petersburg in the eighteenth century lessened the importance of Ustiug as a center of transportation and trade, it continued to prosper as a mercantile center and became renowned as a center of crafts such as leather and metal working, as well as the production of fine enamel objects. In particular its silversmiths developed special skills in the niello technique, and their work was in demand not only in the north but in St. Petersburg and the imperial court. Although never a major city, Ustiug's prosperity was reflected in the increasing number of its masonry houses, a number of which have been preserved along the river embankment and along Uspenskaia (Dormition) Street, roughly parallel to the river.

      The wealth of local merchants led to yet another series of donations to monastery churches, some of which gained elaborate gilded iconostases that reveal a northern interpretation of European baroque art. One of the best examples is Trinity Cathedral at the Trinity-Gleden Monastery. Although visible from Velikii Ustiug, the monastery is situated some five kilometers to the southwest on the opposite bank of the Sukhona. Established no later than the middle of the thirteenth century, the monastery consisted entirely of wooden structures, including three log churches, for the first four centuries of its existence (18). Its earliest masonry structure is the rebuilt Trinity Cathedral, begun in 1659 with the support of donations by Sila and Ivan Grudtsyn, members of one of Ustiug's wealthiest merchant families. Subsequent financial and legal difficulties after the death of the brothers halted construction for much of the 1660s until 1690. The structure was finally completed only at the end of the seventeenth century (19).

      The cathedral's design and exterior form owe much to the slightly earlier Cathedral of the Archangel Michael (1653-56) at the monastery of the same name in Ustiug itself. Both are elevated on a high socle or base; both have walls that rise to a cornice underlying the curved gable ends, or zakomary (a distant derivation from early Italian influence, such as the Archangel Michael Cathedral in the Moscow Kremlin); and each has a level, four-sloped roof placed over the zakomary (as opposed to a roofline following the contours of the curved gables) (20). Each also has a raised porch, or parvis, attached to all but the east facade. But the major difference between the two main monastery cathedrals of Velikii Ustiug concerns the interior structure. The Archangel Michael Cathedral has four piers, in the traditional inscribed-cross arrangement. In contrast, the Trinity Cathedral has two piers in a plan that resembles the Solvychegodsk Annunciation Cathedral of a century earlier.

      The use of the two-piered plan, when implemented with careful calculation of the stress on the exterior walls of large structures such as the Trinity Cathedral, permits a significantly greater illumination of the interior. The piers are relatively compact, as are the spring arches of the vaulting. In addition, all of the five drums are situated over the main interior space. In the typical design of earlier medieval churches, the east drums were placed over bays located behind the iconostasis, thus diminishing the amount of light cast on the main interior space. By the seventeenth century, icon screens were more frequently attached to the upper part of the east wall (above the opening for the eastward projection of the apse) in a design that allowed more light in the main space.

      Taken together, these factors permit a greater natural illumination of the interior of the Trinity Cathedral and its iconostasis, which is one of the most elaborate in the Russian north. It should be noted that the interior walls of the cathedral were not painted with frescoes and the main icon screen, consisting of five rows of intricately carved, gilded wood, was erected only in 1776-84. In a departure from typical practice, the iconostasis contains extensive statuary that amplifies the central iconic motif of the ministry and Passion of Christ. The ultimate sources for this peculiar eighteenth-century combination of florid baroque and neoclassical elements are St. Petersburg and, possibly, the Ukrainian baroque. However, the Trinity Monastery contract with the master craftsmen informs that they were from the town of Totma/ also located on the Sukhona River, some 200 kilometers to the southwest of Velikii Ustiug (21). During the eighteenth century the town of Totma, whose wealth was based on salt refining and trade on the northern river network, supported a flourishing baroque style in church architecture and decoration, and it is here that our architectural survey of the Vologda region will conclude.

      The first recorded reference to Totma is 1137-ten years earlier than Moscow. During the sixteenth century it became a major center of salt refining, which brought considerable wealth to local monasteries and to a branch of the Stroganov family, who rapidly gained control of this enterprise. In addition Totma's prosperity increased not only through its position on the trading route to the White Sea, but also through trade with Siberia. Both Ivan the Terrible and Peter the Great visited Totma, which provides further evidence of its importance to the commerce of the Russian north. Certain local merchants showed remarkable enterprise in exploring distant terrain, and by the end of the eighteenth century, a number of expeditions to Alaska were funded in Totma. Indeed, a Totma resident named Ivan Kuskov founded California's Fort Ross in 1812 (22). His log-house in Totma has been converted into a modest, but attractive museum.

      The wealth that flowed into this community during the eighteenth century supported the building of a number of brick churches of striking design, with large bell towers and baroque decoration in a distinctive scroll pattern formed by low brick relief. These churches, and the nearby Savior-Sumorin Monastery, were designed to present an imposing view to the river, rising as they did above the wooden settlements around them. Fortunately, a few of these landmarks are being restored-in some cases for use by the Orthodox Church and in others as sites for museums. However, the restoration proceeds sporadically, and petty vandalism has undone some of the repairs.

      The most imposing of the monuments is the Church of the Entry into Jerusalem, built in 1774-94 with funds provided by the brothers Grigorii and Peter Panov, merchants who were involved in the trade with "Russian America"(23) Churches of this type in Totma were designed without interior piers, and their height was dictated not only by aesthetic considerations, but also by the fact that they actually consisted of two churches, the lower of which was used in winter and the upper in the summer. The narrow pilasters that segment the facade and emphasize its height, the elaborate scroll work between the window courses, and the detailing of the cornice and cupola drums are executed with a remarkable sense of proportion. The bell tower attached to the vestibule in the west echoes the vertical accent of the main structure.

      The nearby Church of the Nativity of Christ shows similar decorative and structural features, but its general appearance is quite different. Instead of the traditional five cupolas with a bell tower in the west, the structure is highly centralized, with an elongated series of octagons rising above the main structure in the manner of a spire. The refectory and porch are modest in comparison with this soaring vertical emphasis. Of special interest is the fact that this building, like a number of other eighteenth-century masonry churches in Totma, was constructed in the two phases: the lower, winter church was built in 1746-48, and the upper church was added in 1786-93. The lower church thus serves as a base for the great height of the upper church; but the design is so accomplished that this fusion of structures is unobtrusive. A free-standing bell tower, completed in the 1790s, was razed in the Soviet period (24).

      Space does not permit a thorough analysis of the monuments in this once flourishing but now distinctly provincial northern town. Among the best restored landmarks is the Church of the Trinity in Green Fishers' Quarter, near the Sukhona River. Like the Nativity Church, it was erected in two phases (1768-72 and 1780-88), with funds provided by the merchant Sergei Cherepanov. The master builder was a certain Fedor Titov, a free peasant. The church has since been restored to active use for the local Orthodox parish; its cupolas are once again in place, and its whitewashed brick walls, with the distinctive baroque scroll ornamentation of Totma's late eighteenth-century churches.

      And on the western fringes of Totma, there stands the much-damaged but still imposing ensemble of the Savior-Sumorin Monastery, which played an important role in the development of the town. Founded in 1554 by Feodosii Sumorin, the monastery consisted entirely of wooden structures until the latter part of the eighteenth century. Among its surviving structures, the most significant is the palatial Ascension Cathedral, built and expanded over a period of three decades, from 1796 to 1825. In its imposing late classical forms, now abandoned and with its interior stripped, this church is reminiscent of ruined nineteenth-century mansions in the southern part of the United States. Under current circumstances, the restoration of these monumental structures is very much in question.

      The preceding survey has given a by no means complete view of the remarkable variety of architectural monuments in the Vologda territory of northern Russia. From the late fifteenth to the nineteenth century, this severe region provided the resources for some of the most distinctive monuments in Russian architectural history, including the medieval churches of the White Lake monasteries, the late medieval monuments of Vologda, and the baroque churches of Velikii Ustiug and Totma. It must be noted that this article has dealt only with masonry structures, yet the region was also once known for its log architecture. Much has been lost over the past century to time and vandalism, but until recently cities such as Vologda and Velikii Ustiug had retained a large number of wooden houses. Yet, as noted in my preceding Visual Resources article on Vologda, the surviving structures are increasingly under threat for lack of maintenance. Whether of brick or wood, these monuments must be documented photographically, if they are to be preserved for study and, one hopes, reclamation.


      For assistance in preparing the photographs in this article for publication, I would like to thank the Samuel H. Kress Foundation. These photographs are a part of the William Brumfield collection at the Photographic Archives of the National Gallery of Art, Washington.


      1. A detailed study of the architectural history of the St. Kirill and Ferapontov monasteries is contained in I.A. Kochetkov, O.V. Leiekova, S.S. Pod"iapol'skii, Kirillo-Belozerskii i Ferapontov monastyri: arkhitekturnye pamiatniki (Moscow, 1994).

      2. Biographical information on St. Kirill and other monastic leaders of the Belozersk region mentioned in this text is presented in Prepodobnyi Kirill, Ferapont i Martinian Belozerskie (St. Petersburg, 1993), pp. 4-167.

      3. On Italian influence in late fifteenth and early sixteenth-century Muscovite architecture, see William Craft Brumfield, A History of Russian Architecture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), pp. 92-106.

      4. A sketch of Sergei Podiapolskii's reconstruction of the original appearance of the Dormition Cathedral is contained in I.A. Kochetkov, O.V. Leiekova, S.S. Pod"iapol'skii, Kirillo-Belozerskii monastyr' (Leningrad, 1979), p. 40.

      5. Pod"iapol'skii's reconstruction of the original form of the Archangel Church is contained ibid., p. 41.

      6. Attributions to Borisov are discussed in Kochetkov, et al., Kirillo-Belozerskii i Ferapontov monastyri, pp. 27-28.

      7. St. Ferapont (Therapontos) was born Fedor Poskochin, another of Moscow's prominent noble families. An extensive published history of the Ferapontov Monastery as a religious institution is Ivan Brilliantov, Ferapontov Belozerskii Monastyr' (St. Petersburg, 1899), reprinted with an afterword by Gerold Vzdornov (Moscow, 1994).

      8. For examples of fifteenth-century Pskov church architecture and decorative brickwork, see Brumfield, History, pp. 74-79.

      9. For an account of the construction and modification of the early monuments at Ferapontov Monastery, see V.D. Sarab'ianov, "Istoriia arkhitekturnykh i khudozhestvennykh pamiatnikov Ferapontova monastyria," Ferapontovskii sbornik: Vypusk vtoroi (Moscow, 1988), pp. 9-98.

      10. On the frescoes by Dionisii and their relation to the structure of the Nativity Cathedral, see V.N. Lazarev, Drevnerusskie mozaiki i freski XI-XV vs. (Moscow, 1973), pp. 76-79, with plates 431-456; and Marina Serebriakova (director of the Ferapontov museum), "Gimn Bogoroditse," Pamiatniki otechestva, 30 (1993) 3-4: 109-117.

      11. Material on the dates and construction history of the Annunciation Church at Ferapontov Monastery is contained in Serebriakova, "Pamiatniki arkhitektury Ferapontova monastyria," p. 194;

      and V.D. Sarab'ianov, "Istoriia arkhitekturnykh i khudozhestvennykh pamiatnikov Ferapontova monastyria," Ferapontovskii sbornik: Vypusk tretii (Moscow, 1991), pp. 37-39.

      12. On the Spas-Prilutskii Monastery, see G. Bocharov and V. Vygolov, Vologda. Kirillov. Ferapontouo. Belozersk, (Moscow, 1979), pp. 127-51; and Geroi'd Vzdornov, Vologda (Leningrad, 1978), pp. 110-20. The second part of its name derives from the monastery's location near a bend (luka) in the Vologda River.

      13. On the St. Sophia Cathedral in Vologda, see Brumfield, "Photographic Documentation of Architectural Monuments in the Russian North: Vologda," Visual Resources, 12 (1996) 2: 136-139.

      14. These construction dates for the Annunciation Cathedral are given in G. Bocharov and V. Vygolov, Sol'vychegodsk. Velikii Ustiug. Tot'ma (Moscow, 1983), pp. 24-27.

      15. The name Ustiug means the "mouth of the lug," and the epithet Velikii, or "great," was added at the end of the sixteenth century to signify the city's importance as a commerical center. A detailed survey of the medieval history of Velikii Ustiug is contained in V.P. Shil'nikovskaia, Velikii Ustiug (razvitie arkhitektury goroda do serediny XIX v., (Moscow, 1973), pp. 8-26.

      16. An analysis of the Dormition Cathedral complex in Velikii Ustiug is presented in Bocharov and Vygolov, Sol'vychegodsk. Velikii Ustiug. Tot'ma, pp. 92-117.

      17. For a photograph of the St. Nicholas church while still in use as a lumber mill, see P.A. Tel'tevskii, Velikii Ustiug (Moscow, 1977), p. 100.

      18. There is no documentary evidence as to the date of the founding of Trinity-Gleden Monastery, but it is clearly one of the earliest monastic institutions in the north. For a discussion of possible dates, see Shil'nikovskaia, Velikii Ustiug, pp. 113-14.

      19. After the death of the first two brothers, the third brother, Vasilii Grudtsyn, was left a bequest by his father-in-law, Filaret (who had become an elder at the monastery) to complete the cathedral's construction. Vasilii did not honor the agreement, and not until the hegumen of the monastery appealed to Patriarch loakim in Moscow did Grudtsyn release the money for construction around 1690. See Bocharov and Vygolov, Sol'vychegodsk. Velikii Ustiug. Tot'ma, pp. 249-50.

      20. The design of the Archangel Michael Cathedral in Ustiug is discussed in: Tel'tevskii, Velikii Ustiug, pp. 24-26; and Bocharov and Vygolov, Sol'vychegodsk. Velikii Ustiug. Tot'ma, pp. 196-203.

      21. Remarks on the iconography of the Trinity Cathedral iconostasis and its relation to Western religious art are contained in K. Onash, "Ikonostasy Velikogo Ustiuga," in V.A. Sablin, ed., Velikii Ustiug: kraevedcheskii ai'manakh. Vol. 1 (Vologda, 1995): 180-194. Information on the identity of the iconostasis masters (the carvers, the gilder, and the main icon painters) is contained in Bocharov and Vygolov, Soi'vychegodsk. Velikii Ustiug. Tot'ma, pp. 255-57.

      22. A survey of Kuskov's work in North America is contained in N. A. Chernitsyn, "Issledovatel' Aliaski i Sevemoi Kalifornii Ivan Kuskov," Letopis' Severn, vol. 3 (Moscow, 1962), pp. 108-21.

      23. On the genesis of the Church of the Entry into Jerusalem, see Bocharov and V. Vygolov, Sol'vychegodsk. Velikii Ustiug. Tot'ma, p. 278.

      24. Ibid., 281.

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