Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Green / Malachite...

Following on from yesterday's post about blue things and lapis lazuli, I thought I would carry on the theme of minerals and design by delving into the history of Malachite.

Malachite (Copper Carbonate Hydroxide), derives its name from the Greek Μολοχίτης λίθος molochitis lithos, "mallow-green stone". The mineral was given this name due to its resemblance to the leaves of the Mallow plant:

Like Lapis Lazuli, Malachite was used as a mineral pigment in paints from antiquity until about 1800.

Above: Madonna and Child by Carlo Crivelli. Note the green pigments

It became very fashionable as a stone for decorative work in the 17-18th centuries...

The desk above in the state music room at Chatsworth was a gift from Tsar Nicolas I to the Duke of Devonshire. Other items which were fashionable were clocks...

and vases...

The Malachite Room of the Winter Palace, designed by the architect Alexander Briullov in the late 1830s was used as an official drawing-room of Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna, wife of Nicholas I.

The Winter Palace in St Petersburg, was, from 1732 to 1917, the official residence of the Russian Tsars. Situated between the palace embankment and the palace square, adjacent to the site of Peter the Great's original Winter Palace, the present and fourth Winter Palace was built and altered almost continuously between the late 1730s and 1837, when it was severely damaged by fire and immediately rebuilt. The storming of the palace in 1917 became an iconic symbol of the Russian Revolution and the downfall of the House of Romanov. Today, the restored palace forms part of the complex of buildings housing the Hermitage Museum.

The unique embellishment of the room includes columns, pilasters, fire-place trimmings and decorative vases - all made of malachite in the "Russian mosaic" technique. The interior looks particularly impressive due to the combination of bright green of the stone, rich gilding and saturated crimson of the hangings. The big covered malachite vase (below) and the furniture produced in the workshop of Peter Gambs from sketches by Auguste de Montferrand were saved during the fire of 1837. They had been part of the interior of the Jasper Reception Room that existed here before the fire.

The house of Romanov had a very close connection to Carl Faberge, being his most important patron. Faberge was an unsurpassed craftsman and jeweler, bringing gems and minerals together with gold to create vases, eggs, frames and many other items of beauty. He loved malachite, creating frames and clocks like the ones below...

Faberge is a post in himself, but check out the House of Faberge website for a good biography and further examples of his work.

The green and gold colour cheme of Malachite still inspires designers in contemporary ways...

Again, Bisazza, offers an amazing range of mosaic tiles. Their work is truly exceptional.

The picture of this Malachite vanity was found at Decor Dallas

The bath below is available here


  1. oh, no one does malachite better than those Czars. That first piece is really something- the others pale in comparison. That Madonna is out of this world- Heaven. pgt

  2. I thought I would never leave the Malachite room in the palace. It is
    my favorite stone. I never knew they used it for paints. Thank you for this beautiful post.

  3. The desk at Chatsworth was indeed a fantastic gift from Tsar Nicolas *sighs happily*. But the use of malachite needs to be considered carefully by the artist (or patron).

    I feel that the desk, the clocks and picture frames look sensational ... because they are background or foreground for the contrasting gold work. The ceiling high columns and the bath, on the otherhand, are too much of a good thing.

  4. Emerald GREEN the hue of jewels the color of all trees and foliage even reaching up to the starry accomplishments of the International team of good women and men who achieved an ENVIRONMENTAL ACCORD SUCCESS IN PARIS FRANCE on the weekend... thanks to The Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg Republic of Russia...from JAMES MICHAEL CHAPESKIE

  5. Thanks for approving my previous comments...JAMES MICH.


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