Since there is a lot of free time now, I will allow myself to voice what I have never said anywhere else. There was a desire to study this issue in more detail, including with an attempt to access the administration and technical staff of the Hermitage, but since it happened with the pandemic and now hardly anyone will tell me anything, let alone be at their workplace, I will explain my thoughts are here so far in the form of a version.
It's about the Atlanteans. We all know that this is a wonderful miracle. I think now very few people believe in the official version of their manufacture. And rightly so. Especially people who are technically literate, they understood this for a long time. This question haunted me ever since when I studied at the Soviet art school. And over time, as knowledge and experience in the construction industry was accumulated, a clear understanding came that the whole story with the Atlanteans was just a beautiful myth. What is the problem.
1. Making the statues themselves.
2. The technology of their installation in their regular places
3. Elimination of forces of excessive stress on fracture and deformation.
Let's talk about this.
Let's start with how the statues are made. The official version of a chisel and a sledgehammer has not interested me for at least 35 years. Since I graduated from art school, where I was taught such a wonderful subject as modeling for 4 years. I know perfectly well how the "incredible" masterpieces of "marble" are made. The words "incredible" and "marble" are in quotation marks. For there is marble only nominally, in fact it is a composite based on marble flour. Each statue has a metal frame on which the mixture is applied in the usual stucco method - like clay. There are, of course, statues made of real stone made by mechanical (instrumental) processing, but they will always be without detailed elaboration and relatively rough shape. So to speak, a draft, a semi-finished product. You will not see the teeth and tongue in a parted mouth for sure. In general, for the most part, various bowls, vases, pots, baths and the like were made from natural stone. It is faster and cheaper to make them from natural stone than from composite. Marble is relatively soft and can be worked with conventional steel tools. Moreover, frankly speaking, it is more difficult to make a vase or a statue out of wood, because there are fibers, twigs in the tree and the wood is not uniform in hardness and density. Also, not every type of wood is suitable for different kinds of crafts. The same needles, for example, are completely excluded due to their resinous content. You also need to understand that very often various technologies were used in a statue of a high technical level. For example, some of the elements could be natural, and some of the composite. And all this is either glued or on a frame. There could also be a combination of various minerals. Not necessarily all marble. A number of minerals can be melted and poured into molds, in particular diabases and basalts. And no one forbids, for example, adding something to the molten basalt to add shades or texture. And also marble and most of its composite variations are quite hygroscopic. That is, even a statue made yesterday can be easily aged with various impregnating compounds to the desired condition. And you can also sandblast it, fry it in a certain way … Okay, this is a separate story, I will not tell everything, otherwise the restorers and students with theses will want to look me in the eyes with not the kindest look. By the way, in the dashing 90s I was engaged in the manufacture of various carved pieces of wood, including semi-antique pieces from the Louvre catalog, and my friends successfully realized this even in Paris itself as souvenirs. There are technologies for artificial aging of wood, and very simple ones. It is also possible to make the surface of the wood look like marble. And this is done with an ordinary candle. If you do not pick it up, then you will not think that this is a piece of wood. And it was a restorer from the Hermitage who taught me this at one time. Extra class master …
Let's go back to the Atlanteans. I exclude all versions in artificial stone. It is natural granite. Firstly, I have not seen anywhere and have not heard from anyone about the technology of artificial granite. It just doesn't exist. And it never existed. There are granite imitation technologies. That is, the output is something that looks like natural granite. But it won't be granite anyway. And it will be determined both visually upon close examination, and in some cases tactilely, because all modern technologies imply a polymer binder, and in the laboratory. Laboratory analysis will quickly and easily determine where the natural stone is and where it is not. All variants of the so-called "artificial granite" described in various kinds of fiction and other Handicraft Handbooks are nothing more than imitation. And it is correct to speak not about artificial granite, but about imitation of granite. Anyone can see a living example of imitation of granite, for example, in the Kazan Cathedral. There, all the pilasters and pylons, that is, "square" columns, are plastered with a composition that imitates granite.
And if you compare it with the "round" columns that stand side by side, then everyone will see that they are different. They differ in pattern and texture and color. By the way, the technology of this plaster mixture has been lost, and today for restorers peeling plaster on pylons is a big problem. In particular, the chief restorer of the cathedral, Mr. Dmitry Popov, complained to me about this at one time. I wrote about this in one of my articles a few years ago.
The big mistake of many history buffs is that they literally believe different written sources without understanding the essence. We saw the phrase "artificial granite" in some article or document, above I mentioned about the handicraftsman's guide, and that's it. They think that this is precisely an artificial repetition of granite. Eureka! I solved the problem. No guys, it’s not. Not at all. This is just an external imitation. In some cases, it is really of a very high level, as in the case of the same bust of Montferrand.
The bust of Montferrand is notable for the fact that it shows imitation of various types of stone. The head is made of imitation marble, as I wrote above from a composite based on marble flour. In the garments we see imitation of granite, quartzite, porphyry and slate.
Please note that in the case of imitation of granite (gray, shoulder), we see a fine-grained one-component composition. No texture pattern typical for granite and quartz veins. For most people, far from the intricacies of artificial stone, it is the signs of the presence of texture and quartz veins that will be distinctive for identifying natural stone. And now we look at the Atlanteans.
See the texture drawing? This is quartz. Quartz veins. Take a closer look that one of the veins stretches through the entire figure of the Atlantean from bottom to top.
But below, you can see how these veins pass from the statue to the stand.
This can never be repeated by any artificial technology. This is the value of natural stone. Any artificial stone technology implies its liquid or amorphous (plastic) state. It is impossible to come up with a mold or matrix for casting in which pouring the components in a liquid or molten state would create such a pattern. There is not a single spot where we see a hint of symmetry or repetition. It is impossible to come up with a technology in which the texture vein would continuously go over the entire form without signs of levels or portions of filling. You also need to understand that these very veins are nothing more than quartz. And the rest is feldspar, mica and a number of other minerals in a small percentage. All these components, of which granite itself is composed, have different hardness, different density and different melting points. It is impossible to melt granite. It will explode or crumble depending on the rock. It is also impossible to dissolve, its constituent minerals have different chemical activity, conjugation and stability. In general, we can say that granite is almost chemically neutral, especially the quartz that makes it up. Also, everyone who is familiar with casting technology is well aware of such a problem as voids inside the product. The so-called caverns. They are inevitably formed both when air enters when the material is poured into a mold, and during crystallization, which is usually accompanied by temperature fluctuations with the release of gases and vapors. Now the issue of caverns elimination is solved by the method of moving formwork or vibropress (vibration formwork). At the same time, the volume and weight of products is relatively small, measured in kilograms. It is hard to imagine a setup that can vibrate a tonne of casting mold. And movable formwork can be made only for objects of rotation, to which the Atlanteans clearly do not belong.
Well, and the last thing that drives the final nail into the version of the artificial (concrete) origin of the Atlanteans is their not the sameness. They are the same only if you don't look closely. And if you look closely, you can see a lot of differences. And if you also try to measure all the figures, it turns out that they all differ in size. In particular, the toes hang down in the delta up to 1 cm. In general, the size of the feet varies within 1, 5 cm. Any of you can take a tape measure and measure the Atlantes yourself, you will see that they are different. Here are a couple of photos with toes. Look at the strip on the plantain card. It can be seen that the fingers hang down in different ways.
In general, Atlanteans are made of natural granite. It is not clear just how. I honestly do not know how. Precisely that they were not cast and definitely not with a chisel. Moreover, I don't even understand how they were polished. Provided that there was no high-speed power tool.
Let's move on to the technology of their installation. There are also many questions here. The official version of the construction of the portico of the Hermitage with the Atlanteans presupposes their installation before the installation of the floor beams and, accordingly, the entire roof of the portico. As a person close to construction, such an algorithm is alien to me. Personally, I would never do that. This is a violation of every conceivable technological norm. This is not done. Precisely because, according to the official version, the Atlanteans were installed at the construction stage, now there is no possibility of their competent restoration. It all comes down to the banal grouting of new cracks. And there are only more of these cracks every year. Under the influence of a number of pumping forces, an excess pressure of directional action occurs, which results in new cracks. Such forcing forces are the rigid binding of the portico to the box of the New Hermitage building, and, apparently, the poor-quality foundation and a number of other reasons, including traffic and even concerts with parades on Palace Square. Vibrations are also harmful. It turns out either, or. Or the portico was designed and built by fools and ignoramuses. Either smart people built, but now no one knows how they built, and therefore they cannot fix anything.
In my version, I will proceed from the fact that smart people nevertheless designed and built the portico. And now they are just ignorant.
And so, now I’ll get to the point, because the article is becoming too voluminous and I don’t want to divide it into two parts. If we look at the portico upstairs, where the head of the Atlanteans is, we will see a huge metal beam. She is a carrier. Painted to match the color of plaster and stone. And no specialist will simply not notice it. Many times I went to the Atlanteans with my acquaintances and friends, and until I showed them this beam, no one paid attention to it. This beam is remarkable in that it is incredibly powerful. For the roof of such a small building, or rather an extension, which is the very portico with the Atlanteans, such a beam is clearly superfluous. In this photo, you can see her very well.
And there is nothing on the roof. Actually only the roof.
The question is why? Of course, a metal support beam is good. But, in this case, it is absolutely not necessary. Provided the official version. Moreover, if this steel beam was not there, the roof of the portico would have stood perfectly for centuries, be it just brick or stone. Put a temporary wooden element, brickwork on it with a binder mortar, then remove the pieces of wood, and that's it. We see the actual stone on top of a steel beam. And even from the sides, the stone protects the beam. Away from the eyes. That is, the beam is clearly serving something else. For what? In order to…
… To keep the Atlanteans. Atlantes are hanging. Hang on this beam. This beam is huge. Thick and long. Most likely this is a whole metal truss for the entire length of the portico. If it were not a whole beam, but short beams between the pylons (columns), then as a result of the different thermal expansion coefficients of stone and metal, there would inevitably be visible cracks on the facade. The metal would tear the stone. And we don't see any cracks. And precisely because the beam is powerful, we see such a thick roof. At the same time, a binder solution is poured over the beam with a high degree of probability, probably with reinforcement inside. Simply put, concrete. This option is guaranteed to reduce the effect of thermal expansion of the metal and exclude deformation (cracks). If we exclude concrete, then only the option with a U-shaped stone element between the porticoes remains. In this case, since we do not see the joints, plastering using shingles or mesh is required.
Inside the Atlanteans, most likely a metal rod. It can be through the entire figure of the Atlantean. Maybe at the ends of the figures. That is, at the head and at the bottom. In the second case, the metal rod should be at least one meter deep and most likely not a single one. For example, there is a rod in each leg. It is possible that inside the Atlanteans there is generally a through hole through and through, and in it there is a supporting metal rod. In the area of the Atlantean's head, we see a strange-looking "hood".
People with whom I have not communicated at all do not understand its purpose. But I'll explain now. This hood is quite large and thick. And of course it was made for a reason. First, he creates a platform for support, with a high degree of probability there is a metal penny on it. More precisely, a plate that relieves a point load. If there was no such plate, then we would see cracked Atlanteans not in the area of the feet, but in the area of the neck. And secondly, most importantly, it allows you to make a hole in the figure for a pin (rod). This rod also removes the point load by distributing it along the longitudinal axis of the entire Atlas figure. The pin is inserted into the hole and is most likely filled with mortar.
Or in general, most likely, the algorithm for making the Atlanteans was as follows. The pin was not inserted into the finished Atlanta figure, it is technically difficult and risky. It is much more reasonable and logical to insert the pin under the statue at the stage of preparation. That is, when a certain block of granite was broken out in a quarry, all the necessary holes were drilled in this block and all the necessary fittings were inserted into them. Or maybe they just poured molten metal into the holes. Then you won't have to fill in any solutions, you get a monolith. The reinforcement inserted into the block will significantly strengthen the workpiece and reduce the risk of losing the sculpture during its processing. Drink and stab as much as you like, no leg or head will fall off. Any technology for making sculptures that was taught to me at an art school meant at first making a metal frame. I think in this case everything was exactly like that.
And the portico was first built without the Atlanteans. The Atlanteans were primed later. Where there is a hood, where there is a metal platform, there is most likely a hook. And there is a hole in the steel beam that holds the roof of the portico. A chain is pulled through this hole. The Atlanta was hooked up by the hook, pulled up to the beam with a hood with a chain, and a curbstone was pushed from below, onto which the Atlanta was lowered. Perhaps, instead of a chain, a link mechanism, a crane-beam was used. The essence is, in general, the same. Unless in the case of a chain, it can be assumed that it is still on top of the beam and allows the possibility of dismantling the atlant or its restoration, and in the case of a lever, such a possibility will have to be excluded without dismantling the roof of the portico.
Why, then, are the legs of the Atlanteans cracking? If they are hanging. There can be many reasons. First, the chain or hook might be loose. That is, an excessive load has gone to my feet. Secondly, the suspended system does not in any way change the upper attachment point for any forms of deformation and subsidence of the building, which means that in the event of a horizontal displacement of the statue, the force will go to a break in the leg area. In simpler terms, each linear centimeter of subsidence in the vertical axis will be transmitted by exactly the same displacement in the horizontal axis, provided that one of the angles of the triangle (anchorage hook) is preserved. Which is what we observe. Half of the Atlanteans have cracks covered with grout in the area of their feet. And the most interesting thing is that those who made the Atlanteans and who in general designed all this, implied that there could be such kind of fracture forces in the area of the feet. And the feet of the Atlanteans are reinforced. This can only be noticed by a professional artist, everyone to whom I showed and explained this before me did not notice anything like this. And rightly so, because they did not study the anatomy of the human body in the art school. Here is a look at the foot of the Atlantean and from the anatomical reference book. Compare. A number of differences. With a solid red line, I roughly drew what the instep at the foot should be. And with a dotted line I drew the proportional size of the ankle and the length of the foot. The dotted line at the ankle shows the thickness at the actual length of the foot, and the dotted line at the toes shows the proportional size of the foot at the actual ankle. Of course, all people have different ways, but in general, ideally, it should be something like this.
I hope everything is clearly explained and shown. And, now, in light of my version, the main question. And who actually designed, built, and so on. As I have written more than once in my articles, including the voluminous work When Pra-Peter drowned, the modern city is the legacy of the old city, which supposedly perished between the end of the 12th and the beginning of the 14th century. Then not only great-Peter died, but most of the ball, along with the entire civilization. And the civilization was very developed, the so-called antiquity. Those who survived fell back to tribal and feudal relations and built a new civilization on the remnants of the old. Atlanteans, in my opinion, are one of the rarities of that antediluvian civilization. Until the middle of the 19th century, they lay somewhere in the backyards or in storerooms waiting for their turn. Of course, the portico was built in the 19th century, there can be no doubt about it. Only the technology is incomprehensible. The official one does not suit me, mine is a hundred times more logical and without spaces. Explains absolutely everything. Although, of course, clarifications can be made to it, especially since I have described the possible options. And I hope that someday I will talk to the administration of the museum. This will help clarify the details that flesh out my version.
On this I take my leave, thank you all.