Mascarons: "faces" of Moscow houses
Mascarons: "faces" of Moscow houses

When people in a hurry walk along the streets of the center of Moscow, few people notice small details on old houses. Moreover, even large and noticeable, seemingly, architectural elements elude our attention. Meanwhile, from dozens of Moscow houses amazing masks are watching us, each of which has its own features and its own expression of a stone face …

Goddess at the house at st

Mascarons - convex molded figures in the form of human (most often, female), as well as animal or mythical faces and masks - in pre-revolutionary times were often placed on houses as architectural decorations. They can still be seen on some buildings at the top of the cladding of windows, doors, under balconies and in many other places.

Building on Prospekt Mira, 19 Staroposadsky lane, 8 (1878), architect K Kosmodomianovskaya street, 4/22

The first mascarons began to appear in Russia in the times of Peter the Great. For example, molded heads of angels could be found at the end of the 17th century on the walls of several Moscow churches, then images of lion faces (sometimes with human features) and, finally, delicate female heads came into fashion.

A girl from the preserved part of the fence of the Moscow Imperial Orphanage (second half of the 18th century)

Especially often, such masks were sculpted on Moscow houses precisely in the 17th and 18th centuries, but at the turn of the last and the last century, they also met. Mascarons in Moscow have experienced different styles: baroque, classicism, empire style. Even when Art Nouveau confidently entered fashion at the beginning of the 20th century, mascarons again found a place - for example, they could be seen on mansions built by the talented architect Fyodor Shekhtel.

Building in Staropanisky lane, 5 Myasnitskaya Street, 18 Maly Karetny lane, 4

The architectural fashion in Moscow was changing, but the rich townspeople did not stop decorating their buildings with masked faces, and only in the Soviet years the enthusiasm for mascarons among the customers and the architects themselves for obvious reasons (the fight against architectural excesses) began to decline.

Before the revolution, the owners of future buildings ordered such "masks" to artists and architects out of a desire to show their importance, social significance, material wealth, surprise the public, and sometimes this even went to the detriment of the grace and beauty of buildings.

Spiridonovka street, house 21 (1898)

However, among such pre-revolutionary architectural works were very interesting, made with a fine taste. Well, in our time, perhaps, any such mascaron is a unique "exhibit".

Ryumin lane

You look at such a mask, try to figure out its mood, which the author wanted to convey, and it begins to seem that the house has a soul. Or maybe that's the way it is?

Bolshoi Cherkassky Lane, 9 (1901), architect A Ostozhenka Street, 24

In Moscow, mascarons can most often be found in the city center. Most of these works are pre-revolutionary, and this gives the stone faces and the buildings themselves a special mystery.

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