Walk in the style of "Moscow Art Nouveau"
Journeys | 05.02.2020
Art experts call Modern the last "great style" in art. It arose in the lull between the Franco-Prussian War and World War I. Its appearance is connected with the desire of people to live calmly and, what's most important, beautifully.

In different countries, Modern has its own name. In France and Belgium it is Art Nouveau, in Germany and Austria – Jugendstil, there are also other variants. It is important that all the names reflect the main feature of Modern – it was a new style. However, its variations differ from each other not only by names, but also in style features. They may be divided into two directions. An example of the first can be Art Nouveau, in which the main element will be winding and bizarre lines in the architecture of the building and in the decor. The second direction is expressed in Jugendstil: it is more geometric and its decor is more plain.
Medyntsev's Mansion
Architect: F. F. Voskresensky
Year of construction: 1907
Address: Pomerantsev lane, 6


The mansion of Nikolai Nikolaevich Medyntsev is an example of late Art Nouveau. The building was built in 1907 according to the design of Flegont Flegontovich Voskresensky. The architect used almost all possible means in decoration: stucco molding, ceramic inserts, mosaic panels, metal fences on the roof, half columns, attic with coat of arms. Attic is a decorative wall above the cornice of the building, here you can see it at the top, to the right of the entrance. All this abundance of decor, however, looks very natural.
There are elements in the decor of the mansion that refer us to images of medieval architecture, such as, for example, highly developed sculptured reliefs. Pay attention to another characteristic feature of Art Nouveau – the asymmetry of the building.

After the revolution, the mansion was given over to the museum. The 4th Proletarian Museum was based on the rich collection of the former owner – a successful merchant from a family of merchants. Nikolai Nikolaevich Medyntsev was a passionate collector of porcelain, paintings, antique furniture, as well as objects of decorative art. From 1923 to 1938, the French Embassy was located here, and now the Embassy of Guinea.
Isakov's tenement building
Architect: L. N. Kekushev
Years of construction: 1904-1906
Address: Prechistenka Street, 28

This is one of Lev Kekushev's most famous projects. A large, strikingly decorated house dominates this part of the street. The building has a three-part composition: bay windows protrude on the lateral parts, and stanzas with balconies are located in the middle. Thanks to the stucco decoration, the upper floor appears as a decorative frieze with a skylight window in the center. The window is framed on both sides by female figures holding a book and a torch – the symbols of enlightenment. The window covers on each floor have their own pattern, and the forged lattices of the balconies reflect the strong influence of Western European Art Nouveau – a style that can be traced in many works of Kekushev.
Inside, in the center of the building there is a grand staircase that divides the floors into front and rear. The hall's interiors still have original oak panels, ceramic tiles, wrought iron frames of the stairs. Here Kekushev used his favorite motive of modernity – a dynamic whorl of the spiral. In some apartments there are even fireplaces, ceiling paintings and stucco moldings.

The building has never changed its purpose – it has been an apartment building since the beginning of the twentieth century.
Opposite the Isakov's building there is a palace built back under Catherine II. After the revolution and until 1940, there was a Western art museum, and then the building was transferred to the USSR Academy of Arts.
Kekusheva's Mansion
Architect: L. N. Kekushev
Years of construction: 1901-1903
Address: Ostozhenka Street, 21

This is the brightest and most famous building, built by Lev Nikolayevich Kekushev in 1901-1903. The architect expressed in it the unusual and specific characteristics of exactly Moscow Art Nouveau.

First of all, one can note the fluidity and expressiveness of the forms of the building, complete asymmetry and, most importantly, the freedom of spatial composition. The facades are so elaborate that they seem to be independent of each other. However, the exterior of the building reflects the structure of the interior, where in the center there is a staircase around which the rooms are located.
Kekusheva's Mansion has a characteristic peculiar to Moscow. This is a kind of romantic love for the past, especially the Middle Ages. Precisely because of this there appears such a branch of modernity as the "Neo-Russian style". Here it is expressed in the forms of Western European architecture. A romantic image of a medieval castle is created. This feeling arises due to a certain stumpiness of the form, an active sculptural carved stone decoration, an element of the tower. All these features were characteristic of the romanics.

Lev Kekushev left a "calling card" in his projects – an image of a lion. In this case, a huge copper lion looked over Prechistenka from a truncated facade gable. The gable is the upper part of the building, limited by slopes of the roof and not having a cornice under it.
According to the legend, this building may be one of Margarita's possible addresses in Mikhail Bulgakov's famous novel "The Master and Margarita".
Broydo's tenement building
Architect: N. I. Zherikhov
Year of construction: 1902
Address: Plotnikov lane, 4/5

Broydo's tenement building was built in 1902. The author of the project is Nikolai Ivanovich Zherikhov. The building is richly decorated, and many of its features send us to the French and Belgian branch of Modern – Art Nouveau. Elements of this style are manifested in elegant corner brackets supporting the protruding cornice, and in the wrought-iron lattices of balconies.
At the level of the third floor, the entire building is surrounded by a beautiful frieze with stucco images of antelopes. In addition to stucco molding, in some places the building is lined with "subway tile" – ceramic tiles in the form of small bricks. The rich decor of this house does not protrude much beyond the wall: it is part of it. Even the stucco frieze is flat and graphic.

This building is best viewed at sunset. Real magic arises when the rays of the warm setting sun fall on the building, and the light plays with small differences in the height of the sculptural decoration and with its ornate metal parts. Sculpture and architecture are very important to perceive in dynamics: in the dynamics of movement and environmental change.
Kekushev's tenement building
Architect: L. N. Kekushev
Years of construction: 1903
Address: Ostozhenka Street, 19

Kekushev's tenement building was built a little later than the famous mansion bearing her last name – in 1903. Lev Kekushev, like many homeowners, registred property on his wife. The place where both of these buildings are located can be determined only by the name of the architect. His projects are the quintessence of Moscow Art Nouveau, as well as Shekhtel's architecture.
Kekushev's tenement building does not abound in decor, it is rather strict. The building has a very simple and clear spatial planning. The architect divides the facade into three rows of arches. Despite the absence of a large amount of decor, the facade of the building is very plastic. Such methods of using forms are characteristic both for the works of Lev Kekushev and for modern architecture as a whole.
The Meletins tenement building
Architects: V. E. Dubovskoy / P. K. Vaulin
Years of construction: 1911-1912
Address: Pomerantsev lane, 7

The Meletins tenement building was built in 1912. It was designed by two authors: architect Valentin Evgenievich Dubovskoy and ceramic artist Pyotr Kuzmich Vaulin. The economic upturn in Russia before the First World War led to the appearance of people of the so-called middle class who wanted to live in decent well-maintained houses, but they did not have enough money for their own mansion. Such a social order led to the appearance of decent tenement houses, many of which were not inferior to private mansions in the quality of architecture, they just were bigger and higher. Contemporaries called them "heavy freaks of six floors".
Initially, the house was designed as a three-story building, but in the 1920s additional floors were built on, which greatly influenced its overall composition. In tenement buildings, unlike mansions, windows were rarely made of complex and curved shapes. However, the proportions, sizes and types of glazing of the windows were also diverse.

Tenement buildings, including the Meletins building, were decorated with mosaic and majolica inserts, sometimes whole panels were created on the surface of the walls, such as, for example, the famous "Princess Dream" ("Printsessa Gryoza") by Vrubel on the wall of the Metropol Hotel.
The Meletins tenement building has another sign of Art Nouveau – mascarons. This is a sculptural decoration in the form of a full face human or animal head. On the facade of the building there are mascarons resembling the ritual masks of the Aztecs or Maya.
Full guide " Walk in the style of "Moscow Art Nouveau" by Anastasia Postrigay is available in MAPS.ME guides catalog in the Bloggers section.
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