Logo Picture Left SideLogo Picture Right SideLogo Text at Center

Fifth Part.



185. Although works executed in malachite do not properly belong to the art of the Marble worker, we wish to speak of a very remarkable work of this kind.

This is a chimney-piece which is executed in what is termed the style of Louis Quatorze, and is truly admirable.

It is five feet in height, and more than six and a half feet in width. The frame supports three slopings at the base of a spherical cornice in the coin; this cornice enters by the shaft and rounds towards the capital, and is terminated by a chimera supporting the upper cornice; these chimeras, as well as the fantastical figure in the centre of the mantel, are surrounded with arabesques and garlands in ormolu. Upon each side of the hearth, a Venus is half reclining upon ornaments, also in ormolu. The inside of the chimney-piece is of brass, and is also ornamented. This chimney-piece is valued at $7,500; this demonstrates sufficiently that the materials and ornaments which compose and decorate it are very costly. We shall not speak further of the malachite.

The malachite, traces of which are found in copper mines, is a mineral of irregular formation, which is only found in small masses, and is extremely rare.-It is only in Siberia that this carbonate of copper is found in blocks of greater or less size.

Prince Demidoff possesses estates in Siberia upon which large blocks have been found within a few years.

The extreme density of malachite, the fineness of its grain, and its hardness, render it susceptible of a very fine polish; the wavy reflections which show from the ground, with the shade which it presents, give it a sort of green color, full of lustre and harmony.

It is very difficult to work, and somewhat resembles that magnificent mosaics of the Vatican, which represent the admirable productions of Raphael and Michael Angelo; we do not make this comparison without design, as it explains the high price of the works composed of this material.

The museum of the mines, at St. Petersburg, contains a block weighing 317,592 pounds; this block was the most remarkable one known, previous to the discovery which was made in 1835, on the western side of the Ural Mountains, of a block weighing about 13,233 pounds. It is probably this, which has been cut to form a magnificent portal, and a vase of the greatest beauty, the value of which is estimated at nearly $82,000. These chefs d'auvre excite the admiration of scholars and artists, but they will never become popular.

Malachite, in truth, can never be employed except for ornament, until some quarry easily worked shall have been discovered. But there is nothing to prevent the reproduction in fine Marble, or in porphyry, of the works which M. Demidoff has caused to be executed in malachite. It is with this view that we have described this magnificent chimney-piece, whose beautiful design is equally applicable to all other ornamental chimney-pieces.

[Top of Page]