St. Dmitri: West facade, left and right bays--page 2 (of 4 pages)

1193-97; some of the figures in the carvings and the colonettes are 18th century restorations; in the 19th century apparently drastic reworkings occurred.


West (Main) facade, Left Bay


Solomon in left zakomara (semi-circular gable)

While the central zakomary are dominated by King David (see page 1), here according to Brumfield, Solomon as "law-giver, poet, builder of the Temple" is important, joining David as a representative of a wise and strong ruler. Others depicted on the facades include Alexander the Great, Hercules, and Vsevolod himself. Brumfield continues, and I quote at length because I think his point is important: "Indeed the emphasis on great rulers seems to overshadow the image of Christ. . . . In symbolic terms, however, all of the previous rulers and mythological figures would have been interpreted as part of an elaborate system of commentary on the glory and majesty of Christ (references to classical mythology as well as to the Old Testament were justified as a prefiguration of Christ's mission). The final link in the uppermost row of images occurs on the north facade, of which the left zakamara displays a donor group containing Vsevolod and his five sons, one of whom he holds on his knee. . . . [See this detail.] From Alexander, David, Solomon, and Christ, the sense of authority bequeathed to Vsevolod and to his sons is emphatically proclaimed" (54).
Often the low relief designs around the windows seem more decorative than specifically symbolic or iconographically significant. There are two saints' busts in roundels flanking the windows, but they seem overcome by the foliage and animals. These saints are holding books so they are probably Evangelists.

Seated saints under the arches in the arcade

It's possible that two of these saints might be women.


West Facade, Right Bay





Continue to page 3.

Works Consulted or Quoted:
William Craft Brumfield. A History of Russian Architecture. Seattle: University of Washington P, 2004.
George Heard Hamilton. The Art and Architecture of Russia. New Haven: Yale UP, 1983.
Tamara Talbot Rice. A Concise History of Russian Art. New York: Praeger, 1974.

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© 2017 Mary Ann Sullivan. I have photographed (on site) and manipulated all the images on these pages. Please feel free to use them for personal or educational purposes. They are not available for commercial purposes.