Special edition "St. Anastasia Chapel in Pskov. An Artistic Collaboration Between Alexei Shchusev and Nicholas Roerich"
A small but unique creation by Alexei Shchusev (1873-1949), the St. Anastasia Chapel in Pskov is one of the few church buildings designed by Shchusev to have survived to the present day in Russia, and its murals are among only a handful of surviving works of public art by Nicholas Roerich (1874-1947). Neither artists’ biographers have written much about this landmark, the construction and decoration of which was an important milestone in their artistic collaboration. Despite its significance, in the Soviet period, the chapel suffered serious losses and the deformation of its original appearance. Only now - given the opportunity to study the previously unpublished archival materials, photos taken before the Bolshevik Revolution and technical drawings - can researchers trace the history of the chapel’s creation, compare its architecture and decor, and gain a better understanding of its creators’ vision.
We feel affection for the area of and around Pskov for many reasons. This is where many generations of my grandmother Tatiana Ivanovna Korkunova-Kalashnikova’s family lived. These family names have been connected with Pskov since time immemorial. One of my first archaeological ventures took place in the Pskov region as well. And these areas around Pskov possess real beauty and a wealth of old settlements.
In 1910, upon the recommendation of Igor Emmanuelovich Grabar, the Pskov zemstvo (local elected government) turned to Alexei Viktorovich Shchusev, who was the only person able to manage the difficult undertaking of creating a design for the chapel (St. Anastasia Chapel - S.K.) in the Pskov spirit. And indeed, Shchusev had, by then, earnt a reputation for having a thorough knowledge of the Novgorod and Pskov architecture and for designing several structures inspired by the arresting images and features of this school. The architect, who, at that time, lived and worked in St. Petersburg, regularly travelled to Veliky Novgorod and Pskov to study the architecture. He brought scores of photographs and sketched images of famous paintings and landmark buildings from his trips and he also brought measurements. The depth of his knowledge of the subject is evidenced in the chapters that Shchusev co-wrote with V. Pokrovsky for the first volume of Igor Grabar’s “A History of Russian Art” - “St.Sophia Cathedral of Novgorod and the Beginnings of the Original Architecture”, “The Best Period of Novgorodian Architecture” and “Civil Buildings and Fortifications in Novgorod and Pskov” - and in his array of photographs published in this tome. However, the visits to Veliky Novgorod and Pskov that Shchusev made before the Revolution have been omitted almost entirely from monographs and academic publications about on his work.