The figure of the Kiev an Prince Svyatoslav, whom Nikolay Karamzin hailed as “Alexander the Great of our ancient history” reflects both the stone cutters’ own ideas, and the preferences of connoisseurs and collectors who deeply appreciate their art, and take profound interest for national past.
The artists at “Svyatogor” focus on folk and historic themes, which resulted in the creation of entire gallery of images related to events and “legends of old times”. The figure of the Kiev an Prince Svyatoslav, whom Nikolay Karamzin hailed as “Alexander the Great of our ancient history” reflects both the stone cutters’ own ideas, and the preferences of connoisseurs and collectors who deeply appreciate their art, and take profound interest for national past. The masters have been able to transform a small but representative figure of the Prince, and the “byliny (tales) of old time”, and the epic and poetic lines by poets known as symbolists of the 20th and 19th century. The Prince is standing firmly on the ground, as if covered with grey feather-grass of jade, “the shirt is made of linen, and his sword is on his belt”, as poet Velimir Khlebnikov put it. The author of the model demonstrates a thorough knowledge of the iconography of the hero whom ancient authors wrote about that he was “of a moderate height, not too tall and not too short, with thick eyebrows and light-blue eyes, with a pointed nose, beardless, with thick, overly long hair above the upper lip.” According to the Byzantine writer Leo the Deacon, Svyatoslav’s head “was completely bald, but there was a hair strand hanging on one side, which is a sign of coming from a wealthy family. He had a gold earring in one ear; it was decorated with a carbuncle with two pearls around it. His attire was white and only different from that worn by his servants with its visible cleanliness.” This description corresponds to the image of Svyatoslav as it was devised at the beginning of the last century by the famous Russian painter Klavdy Lebedev and the mounted bronze sculpture of Svyatoslav cast at A. Moran’s factory to the model created by Eugene Lanceray. Following the documentary, pictorial, and sculptural images, the stone cutters created a recognizable but at the same time unique image of Svyatoslav in hard stones. They carved the white shirt out of chalcedony and cut the mail armour from pyrite with stone and metal parts. He has an earring of precious metal in his ear, and two gilded clasps hold the animal skin mantle of moss agate. The weapons are also portrayed with meticulous attention to each small detail. The Prince’s vestments are shown accurately in each minutest detail, but so is his image. His face cut of Gazgan marble is extremely expressive — it is “gloomy and tough” — exactly as described by his contemporaries. The Prince and Commander as interpreted by the masters at “Svyatogor” is full of dignity and confidence. His hand rests on the handle of a long sword that he is prepared to pull out of his sheath, saying the words he is famous for, “I am coming after you.”
Along the familiar road
Svyatoslav‘s army was marching back home.
The haughty Constantinople was left in shock,
And the heroes were covered with glory.
The homeland was not far.
with its plains, and the powerful rivers.
But the evil Greeks were in the ambush
In the mountains, on their way.
And as Svyatoslav recognised
The helmets of his enemies near,
He so said to his fellows,
„It seems the day of our last battle has come!
Let the enemies beat us and defeat us,
Let them get back what we took from them.
But the singers will sing glory to us
Because the dead have no shame!“
And the armies clashed and no one gave up,
And all warriors died in the field;
Even the singer was killed and could not
Sing bitter songs of their sad fate.
Svyatoslav‘s remains were lost in the grass,
His bones cleaned by the wind and heavy rains.
But the poet is singing glory to him,
For the dead bear no shame!“
On our darkest day, on our saddest day
Let‘s remember again what he said!
His words are like lights in the darkness.
Let‘s share the glory of the past
Some peoples are subdued by others,
Giving away their cities, and plains, and rivers —
Only valour lives till the end of time,
For the brave shall be covered with glory for ever!
“Svyatogor” Hard stone carving studio
Author: Grigory Ponomarev
Craftsmen: Konstantin Antipin, Andrei Pavlov
Finisher: Sergey Tsygankov
Jeweller: Alexander Shakirov
Materials: flint, pyrite, fossilised wood, chalcedony, jasper, jade, moss agate, marble, silver, bronze, gold plating, nielloDimensions: 36 × 26 × 32 cm