When Pierre-Ambroise Richebourg traveled to Saint Petersburg in 1859, the Russian Orthodox cathedral dedicated to Saint Isaac of Dalmatia was a magnificent new feature of the city’s skyline and a remarkable feat of architecture and engineering by the French architect Auguste Montferrand. After forty years of construction, the cathedral—the third largest in Europe after Saint Peter’s in Rome and Saint Paul’s in London—had been consecrated the previous year, on May 30, 1858. From directly below and with light streaming in as if divinely sent, Richebourg photographed the enormous cast-iron dome with its twenty-foot-high gilt statues (also produced with new technology, electrotyping), Karl Briullov’s vast painting of the Virgin Mary surrounded by saints and angels, and a white sculpted dove, representing the Holy Spirit, suspended from the central point of the dome.


  • Title: Dome of Saint Isaac’s, Saint Petersburg
  • Creator: Pierre-Ambroise Richebourg
  • Creator Lifespan: 1810 - 1872
  • Creator Nationality: French
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Date: 1859
  • Physical Dimensions: w27 x h27 x d2 cm (sheet)
  • Type: Photographs
  • External Link: MFAH
  • Medium: Albumen silver print from glass negative
  • Credit Line: The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, gift of Manfred Heiting, the Manfred Heiting Collection

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