| Complete information about artwork |
|to do options|
|Name || ||Foretress by the sea|
|Price, USD || ||1000.00|
|Status || ||For sale, check|
|Seller || ||Russian Art Gallery|
|| ||39.0 x 27.0 cm /switch|
|Artist || ||Vyacheslav Kovalenko|
|Year made || ||2000-01-01|
|Edition || ||Original|
||History of Russia|
|Shrouded in the most beautiful of ancient legends, Solovetsky islands (also called Solovki) still maintains its enchantment and is justly considered the pearl of the Russian North. Annually, thousands of people come to Solovki to see one of the most worshipped monasteries, to pay respect to famous Russian saints, to marvel at the wonderful historical, architectural and hydro technical monuments. They also come to be surrounded by the atmosphere of the past, and to get under the spell of the magnificent Russian Northern nature.
Solovetsky islands is located in the western part of the White Sea, in the Onega gulf, less than 150 km from the Polar Circle. It consists of 6 big and many small islands with the total area of about 300 square km. The biggest is the Greater Solovetsky Island on which the legendary medieval monastery stands.
Despite the vicinity to the Polar Circle, winters are not severe here because of the warming influence of the Norwegian Current, a northern arm of the Gulf Stream. During the coldest months temperatures are only as low as 10 or 20 degrees below, which considered to be a very mild winter.
The islands' picturesque relief, shaped by the steep hills, low sandy banks and covered with large stones, forms unique setting for the diverse nature zones and creates an abundance of floral and animal wild life. Archipelago's special microclimate is also determined by the influence of the White Sea and 564 lakes located on the islands. The territory is covered with swamps and woods: pine-trees grow on sand-dunes and sand terraces, fir trees - on rocky ridges, and birch-trees - in waterlogged places.
People tried to master Solovetsky islands since the ancient times. The evidence of these early attempts is the remains of the temporary Neolithic settlements and mysterious stone labyrinths. Solovki were also known to by the local Northern tribes of the Saams, who used islands for their ancient burial grounds, and the Pomors who hunted and fished on the islands' shores. However, the first men to permanently settle on the Islands were two hermits, Sabbatius and Herman, who came to the island in search of seclusion.
At that time Sabbatius was looking for loneliness after the death of his teacher Kiril Belozersky and traveled in the north of Russia. For some time he lived in Valaam Monastery, but found it overcrowded and went away far to the north. The inhabitants of the Karelian coast of the White Sea told Sabbatius about the islands in the sea. Around 1430 he and Herman reached the Solovetsky Islands.
For six years the hermits, who had to bear severe cold and starvation, struggled to survive, and then they left Solovki. Soon after that Sabbatius died (he was later sanctified by the Orthodox Church), but Herman returned to the Islands with another hermit, Zosima, and ever since, Solovki has been regarded as a holy place.
The year 1436 is generally accepted as the year of the Monastery foundation. The monastery's first years of existence were full of bad luck and hardship. The monastery's buildings and churches were completely destroyed by fire. In addition to hard labor of planting and harvesting their own food, monks also had to produce salt from seawater in order to swap it for bread. Eventually, the Solovki Monastery strengthened its positions, and by the middle of the 16th century it became an important religious and political center of Russia. The monastery's ludicrous wealth came from salt, fish and sea animals' products trade; it also owned large lands along the White Sea coast.
Monastery reached top of its power and influence during the administration of the Father-Superior Phillip (Father Phillip's secular name was Phiodor Stepanovich Kolychov). Father Phillip was a descendent from a noble boyar family. He came to Solovki in 1538, and received the position of the monastery's Superior in 1548. During his administration, Father Phillip instituted numerous improvements: first island roads were built; marshes dried and artificial pastures created; domestic animals were brought to the Islands and fish breeding areas were developed. To improve transport, Father Phillip ordered constructions of the stone bay for the Zayatsky Island, and elaborate single connection channel system for Island's 52 lakes.
At the same time he recruited Novgorod's masonry masters, who began to work on the new stone monastery. Czar Ivan the IV the Terrible donated a large amount of money for the monastery. Later Father Phillip was called to Moscow and made the metropolitan of the Church, but he soon lost the title because his opposition to "oprichnina". He was sent to exile, imprisoned and tortured to death. Despite his fall from grace Father Phillip's life, which played a great role not only in the monastery's history but also in the history of the whole Russia, was honored by the Orthodox Church and Russian people. He was canonized 1591, and is worshipped in the monastery ever since.
In the 16-17th centuries the Solovetsky Monastery's treasures drew the attention of the country's Western neighbors. The patrimony estates of the monastery were often raided and destroyed by Swedes, Germans, and Finns. This constant menace forced Solovki inhabitants to take steps to defend themselves. Moscow was also interested in the fortification of its northern borders; it helped to build the monastery's defense with various privileges and donations; twelve years later, under the guidance of the monk Triphon, a fortress was built. It was made of giant stones and was regarded as one of the best fortresses in ancient Russia. At the same time, by fortifying the local Pomor settlements - Sumsky Ostrog, Keret, Kola, Soroka, and Kem, the monastery was also building the unified defense system in Belomorie. By the seventeenth century, Solovetsky islands had become one of the biggest monasteries in the world, with 300 monks and 600 workers who were mostly involved in salt production.
One of the most interesting events in the Solovki's history is the infamous Solovetsky Revolt (1668-1676), which is also regarded as the greatest event in the history of Russian schism. The Revolt started when Solovetsky islands monks refused to accept the reforms conducted by the Head of the Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Nikon (and at that time the monastery's political and ideological influence on Russian life had become very strong). Long negotiations between the Russian Orthodox Church and Monastery had no result. Rebellious monks were branded as heretics and Czar Alexei Michailovich ordered troops of archers to be sent to Solovki.
For seven years the monastery held the siege and successfully defended its walls. Nevertheless, in January of 1676, it was seized because of the treason of monk Pheoktist. The Czar's troops plundered monastery's vaults and executed rebellious monks. After that, Solovki Monastery remained one of the richest, but its economy never fully recovered. Czar Peter The Great visited Solovki twice. It was from here that his march along the "sovereign road" from Nuhcha to Povenets began. A small wooden Andrew Pervozvannyi Church is a memorial of his presence on the islands.
The Solovetsky Monastery gradually lost its significance as a fortress after the Catherine the Great held secularization reform of the church lands. However, in 1854, during the Crimea War, it had to go through one more ordeal. It was also the last time when Solovki Monastery took part in military action. On the 6th of July 1854 two British 60-cannon frigates "Brisk" and "Miranda" approached the Island. The English troops demanded the surrender, the monastery's head Archimandrite Alexander refused to give in. A nine-hour fire siege followed, and the ships made about 1800 shoots. The surprising result was that there were no human casualties after such an intensive fire and only a few buildings were slightly damaged.
The Solovetsky Monastery was the greatest cultural and religious center of Russia till its very abolition. Antique books were collected here for centuries; and the monastery's library was believed to be one of the best in the world. Its collection of icons, church utensils, and embroidery was also considered priceless.
Since the middle of the 19th century Solovki became the place of exile of many notable political and religious figures, but most tragic events were written in the history of Solovetsky islands during Soviet times, in the beginning of the twentieth century. In 1921 Solovki monastery was closed and its new history as Solovetsky Concentration Camp of Special Designation (SLON, which means "elephant" in Russian) began.
Soon after the formation of the Soviet Union its leaders began the building of Gulag - a network of concentration camps for those considered enemies of the state. A wave of repression of a scale never seen before brought hundreds of thousands arrested people to camps, where their destination was to become a work-force performing economic tasks. At their height in the 1930s, these camps contained as much as 10 percent of the Soviet population. So brutal were conditions there, that it is estimated that half of the tens of millions of people sent to the Gulag died there; many didn't even survive a winter. Not until the end of the Soviet Union, when Mikhail Gorbachev was in power, could the Gulag be discussed.
Solovki Camp of Special Designation - "the mother of the GULAG" according to Aleksandr Solzhenitsin - became one of the most feared concentration camps in the Soviet Union. It was formed to isolate political opponents of the new regime: White Army officers, members of opposition parties, participants of counter-revolutionary uprisings, clergymen. In the Twenties the propaganda film "Solovki" was made for the purposes of promoting the "new penitential policy of the Soviet State".
Conditions there were harsh. Prisoners were forced to do hard labor but were given little food, usually only a few slices of bread a day. In summer prisoners who were believed to merit special punishment were chained to a stake in the ground, where they were easy prey for Solovki's mosquitoes. In the winter, prisoners were doused with water and forced to stand outside and froze to death. The exact number of prisoners who went through the camp during 1923-1939 is still unknown. Estimates range between tens and hundreds of thousands.
During the World War II the island was the home of the school for young sailors.
In 1960s visitors were finally allowed to Solovki, but the entire White Sea was special restricted travel zone even for Russians, not to mention foreigners. In order to get there one would need special invitation either to work or visit locals.
The devastation of church buildings continued well until the time when a reserve museum was created on Solovetsky Islands and restoration work was initiated in 1960s. The influx of military families and conservators brought new life to the islands. Today, the settlement around the monastery has a population of about one thousand.
The Orthodox Church reestablished itself here in late 1980s, and the monastery instantly became a place of pilgrimage. In 1988, the first Gulag exhibit in the Soviet Union was opened on Solovetsky islands. In 1992 the Solovetsky monastery complex was included in UNESCO's World Heritage List, and in 1995 the Archipelago was included by Presidential Decree in the List of Exceptionally Valuable Sites of Culture Heritage of the Peoples of the Russian Federation.
Today the museum includes more than a hundred of archeological, historical and architectural monuments and memorable places. The major sights:
1. Solovetsky Kremlin and inner churches.
Walls and eight towers of the Kremlin are built of giant wild boulders and reach up to 6 meters thick. Household structures, churches and cathedrals are situated inside, under the Kremlin protection. By now the St. Nicholas Church and buildings inside the Kremlin, such as the Assumption Cathedral and Transfiguration Cathedral have been restored, and regular services are conducted there. The museum of the Gulag camp is also situated within the Kremlin.
2. Sekirnaya Hill, the Church of Ascension, Commemoration Cross.
Sekirnaya Hill is situated in the northwestern part of Solovetsky Island. In the 19th century monks built on the top of this high hill the Church of Ascension, which was also a lighthouse. In the Gulag times, one of the most cruel punishment cells was located in this church, and in memory of people executed there the Commemoration Cross was later erected.
3. Canal System.
Solovetsky Island does not have rivers, but it has hundreds of lakes. In the 16th century, monks started to connect lakes with canals. This system of lakes and canals stretching for 10 km was used as a fresh water resource, for transport and cargo transportation purposes. Nowadays, a good active and eco tour by rowing boats with opportunities to enjoy the nature of the Island is available.
4. Belugas Cape.
In summer, white whales (belugas) come close to Solovetsky Islands. Belugas Cape is a place they gather to breed.
5. Botanical Garden.
More than 100 plant species can be found there, including those that usually grow far to the south.
6. Negotiation Stone.
It was put on the shore of the southwestern part of Solovetsky Island in memory of the victory over the British fleet in 1854.
6. Zayatsky Islands.
This group of islands has a lot of attractions, including Neolithic sacred labyrinths, burial mounds (presumably, created by protosaami people), a medieval church, household structures and a stone dock.
About 90 plant species inhabit the Islands, mostly of a tundra type, including "dancing" birch trees. Gulls and turns colonies, foxes, field voles can be found in the area.
8. Muksalma Islands and the Dam.
On the Big Muksalma Island situated to the southeast of the Big Solovetsky Island, monks used to keep their cattle. To make transportation between the islands easier in the 19th century they erected a boulder dam. This outstanding hydro engineering facility is about one kilometer long and 6,5 meters thick.