Mascarons: "faces" of Moscow houses

Mascarons - convex molded figures in the form of human (most often, female), as well as animal or mythical faces and masks - in pre-revolutionary times were often placed on houses as architectural decorations. They can still be seen on some buildings at the top of the cladding of windows, doors, under balconies and many other places.


The first mascarons began to appear in Russia in the times of Peter the Great. For example, molded heads of angels could be found at the end of the 17th century on the walls of several Moscow churches, then images of lion faces (sometimes with human features) and, finally, delicate female heads came into fashion.

Such masks were especially often sculpted on Moscow houses precisely in the 17th and 18th centuries, but at the turn of the last and the century before last, they also met. Mascarons in Moscow have experienced different styles: baroque, classicism, empire. Even when at the beginning of the 20th century Art Nouveau confidently entered fashion, mascarons again found a place - for example, they could be seen on mansions built by the talented architect Fyodor Shekhtel.

The architectural fashion in Moscow changed, but the rich townspeople did not stop decorating their buildings with masks, and it was only in the Soviet years that the enthusiasm for mascarons among the customers and the architects themselves for obvious reasons (the fight against architectural excesses) began to decline.

Before the revolution, the owners of future buildings ordered such "masks" to artists and architects out of a desire to show their importance, social significance, material wealth, surprise the public, and sometimes this even went to the detriment of the grace and beauty of buildings.

However, there were among such pre-revolutionary architectural works and very interesting, made with a delicate taste. Well, in our time, perhaps, any such mascaron is a unique "exhibit".

You look at such a mask, try to figure out its mood, which the author wanted to convey, and it begins to seem that the house has a soul. Or maybe that's the way it is?


In Moscow, mascarons can most often be found in the city center. Most of these works are pre-revolutionary, and this gives the stone faces and the buildings themselves a special mystery.


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