- Project Runeberg -  Impressions of Russia /

(1889) [MARC] Author: Georg Brandes Translator: Samuel Coffin Eastman - Tema: Russia
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But, so far as religious architecture is concerned, there
the oldest Russian churches are plainly distinguished
from the unmixed Byzantine style, by their slender
forms and the endeavor to tower into the heavens.

At the end of the twelfth century Russian art had
already become so advanced that it was not behind that
of Western Europe nor of Byzantium. The Russian
art-craftsmen understood how to work in metal with
such dexterity that their fame extended far and wide.
In the middle of the thirteenth century, the French
ambassadors found them in the Tatar-Mongolian service.
The holy Louis of France sent an embassy from Cyprus
to the great Khan of Tatary, whose force at that time
occupied a large part of Russia. The messengers found
a Russian architect and a French goldsmith working for
him. And Du Plan Carpin, who in 1246 was sent by
Innocent IV. to the great Khan Gajuk, and who described
the pomp and wealth of the Tatar Court, speaks of a
Russian goldsmith who was a favorite of the Khan,
and who had made a throne of ivory, adorned with gold
and precious stones and ornamented with bas-reliefs.

It is utterly improbable that the Tatars, in the long
time they ruled Russia, should have tried to give a
different direction to the artistic taste and style of the
people. Nomads as they were, they had no artistic style
of their own, and did not trouble themselves about the
Russians, except to get money out of them. But the
Tatar Khans, in all probability, served as means of
communication between the Asiatic races who possessed an
artistic style, on the one hand, and the oppressed
Russian people, on the other. The Russian artists who
resided among them looked deeply into the art forms
of the interior of Asia, which were new to them, and
they remembered them when they came home. In 1247

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