SAINT AUGUSTINE, FLORIDA

What do the Lightner Museum (St. Augustine, Florida), the Hermitage Museum (St. Petersburg, Russia), and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, New York) have in common?

Monumental malachite urn on pedestal

 

Monumental Malachite Urns, of course!

 

 

malachite

 

Malachite, a carbonated mineral associated with copper ores (from which it gets its green color), grows in layers whose intensity of color correlates with different crystal sizes as it is being formed over thousands of years.

 

 

 

Ural Mountains

 

 

 

By far the largest malachite deposits in the world are in the Ural Mountains in Russia.

 

 

 

 

 

Demidoff Family

 

 

One of the largest and most important of these malachite mines, and there are many, was owned by the Demidoff family.  Not only did the family fund the copper and malachite mining operation, they also operated one of Russia’s most important lapidaries.  Like many of the rich and noble families in Russia, the Demidoff family had strong ties to France and French culture.

 

 


Pavel (1879-1909), Avrora (1873-1904), Maria (1876-1955)

and Anatoli (1874-1943). (Alexei Harlamov, 1883)

 

MET Urn

 

 

 

The Demidoff lapidaries joined forces with the French sculptor and bronzier, Pierre-Philippe Thomire (1751 – 1843, master 1772), to produce some of the most beautiful and important malachite urns seen in museums and private collections around the world.

 

 

 

 

 

Vase, 1819
Pierre Philippe Thomire (French, 1751–1843)
Malachite, gilt-bronze, and bronze

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

 

 

Malachite room

 

 

One of the most extraordinary lapidary commissions ever made was for the now famous Malachite Room in the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg.  Commissioned by Czar Nicolas I, (reigned 1825-1855), it stands as the epitome of what mother nature and man can accomplish when their separate talents are brought together.

 

 

Urn_Closeup

 

The Lightner Museum’s Malachite Urn, c. 1830, once graced the Chicago home of Mr. and Mrs. Washington Porter who purchased the piece in Europe on one of the many grand tours the couple took in the first half of the twentieth century.

 

Now that’s what I call a souvenir!

 

Written by Judy Kinnecom.  

 

Judy