Back to all projects

The Medici Vase Restoration-Conservation Project

  • Before restoration
  • Before restoration
  • Before restoration
  • During the restoration
  • During the restoration
  • During the restoration
  • During the restoration
  • After the restoration
  • During the restoration
  • 1 / 9
  • 2 / 9
  • 3 / 9
  • 4 / 9
  • 5 / 9
  • 6 / 9
  • 7 / 9
  • 8 / 9
  • 9 / 9

The biggest hall in the New Hermitage, known as the Large Skylight Room, is adorned by a majestic ensemble of pieces finished with malachite – colossal vases and gilded tables with stone tops.

The krater of the “Medici vase” type was created no later than 1850. This piece is traditionally attributed to the Peterhof Imperial Lapidary Works – one of three main centres of artistic stonecutting in 19th- and early 20th-century Russia.

On 27 December 1850, Leo von Klenze, the architect of the New Hermitage, ordered that the vase be moved from the storerooms of the Cabinet of His Imperial Majesty (the body which managed the imperial family’s property) to the Hall of Italian Art. The vase is decorated with gilded bronze elements – bands and handles shaped like snake heads. It has been created in the Russian mosaic technique using thin pieces of the striking green mineral arranged “on four sides”, i.e. along two axes that cross at right angles, creating a complex decorative pattern.

Before restoration, the vase was no longer in a fit state for exhibition. Numerous pieces of malachite had been lost from the massive square plinth. The plinth also had several dents and the traces of later renovations, repairs and smears. Detachments and losses of parts of the malachite reduced the artistic impact of the vase and threatened further detachment of mosaic pieces.

As a result of the restoration, this unique piece of Russian lapidary art from the first half of the 19th century can be exhibited. The lost parts have been recreated following the Russian mosaic technique using natural malachite and natural reversible glues and mastic. The recreation has been made to follow as closely as possible the features of the original pattern in the historical malachite mosaic.

After the restoration, the Medici vase took its historical place in the heart of the New Hermitage – in the Large Skylight Room among the display of 17th- and 18th-century Italian art.

The Medici Vase was restored in the State Hermitage’s Laboratory for the Restoration of Sculpture and Semi-Precious Stones. Head of the Laboratory – S.L. Petrova. The artist-restorer – A.A. Androkhanov. 

The project was realized with the support of the Individual Members of the Hermitage Friends’ Club.