Russian Artistic Movements 18th Century Baroque Muscovite (Naryshkin) Baroque

Muscovite (Naryshkin) Baroque

Period: 1680s–1730s
Novodevichy Convent, Moscow

In the 1680s, Western architectural devices combined with Russian national traditions to form a unique style known as Muscovite or Naryshkin Baroque. This was the last original movement in Old Russian architecture before the reforms of Peter the Great turned the country in the direction of the European school.

Muscovite Baroque was essentially a fusion of traditional Russian architecture and elements of European Baroque. The movement is also known as Naryshkin Baroque, because the first churches in this style were built on the estates of the Naryshkin family of Moscow boyars, before spreading across the country.

The most important member of this family was Natalia Naryshkina, second wife of Tsar Alexis Mikhailovich and mother of Peter the Great. The buildings in the Naryshkin Baroque style at the St Sergius Monastery of the Trinity reflected the monks’ openness to innovation and their close relationship with the royal family.

In 1682, the ten-year-old Peter I took refuge at the St Sergius Monastery of the Trinity during the Streltsy revolt instigated by the rival Miloslavsky clan. In 1689, Peter again escaped to the safety of the monastery after an attempt to overthrow him launched by his enemy and ambitious half-sister, the regent Sophia.

Muscovite Baroque was also a feature of the new works commissioned by Sophia for the Novodevichy Convent in Moscow during her brief period in power between 1682 and 1689. The style was widely employed in the facades of the buildings and the elegant outlines of the gateway churches and belltowers.

The Muscovite (Naryshkin) Baroque style lasted into the reign of Empress Anna Ioannovna in the 1730s. After the accession of Peter’s daughter Empress Elizabeth Petrovna in 1741, the movement was replaced by the High Baroque style cultivated by the Italian court architect Bartolomeo Francesco Rastrelli.

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