The Hermitage is rightly called the treasure house of Russian semi-precious stone. Numerous vases, bowls, candelabra and table-tops cut out of semi-precious stones from the Urals and Altai, and now housed in the museum, were created in the nineteenth century in the lapidary works of Peterhof, Kolyvan and Ekaterinburg.

Exhibited in rooms 189, 192, 238 and 241 are various objects made of malachite. In room 237 stand some magnificent vases of deep blue lapis lazuli mined in Badakhshan. They were produced in the Ekaterinburg workshop, according to the specific method of Russian mosaic, by the gifted craftsman Nalimov (1807-1867), who also executed some floor-lamps made of rhodonite. In room 249 note especially an elegant vase hewn out of greyish violet porphyry and richly ornamented with bronze. The creator of this vase was Strizhkov (1768-1811) who for many years worked at Kolyvan. In room 128 (ground floor) stands the Kolyvan vase, named so after the town of its origin. The vase weighs almost nineteen tons and is two hundred and sixty centimetres (8.5 ft.) in height. The vase, cut from a monolith of jasper, took over fourteen years to complete, from 1829 to 1843. During the course of the work the base was divided into several parts, whereas the bowl, five hundred and six centimetres in diameter (almost 16.5 ft.), was made from one block of stone. In spite of its enormous size, the vase is remarkable for its nobility of form and for the perfection of the finish.

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3 May 2007