Mosaic on the central facade of the residence of the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church
Residence of the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, Sofia, 1904-1912
The architects P. Momchilov and Y. Milanov designed the residence of the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church in Sofia between 1904 and 1912. The building is two stories high and has a square inner yard. It houses a library, vestry, chapel, boardroom, the exarch’s office and apartment, a reception hall, and housing for the members of the Holy Synod. The artist Dimitar Gyudzhenov painted the wall paintings in the chapel while the artists Haralampi Tachev and Gospodin Zheliazkov decorated the chapel’s façade with a polychrome glazed technique.
The smalt mosaic on the central façade of the Residence of the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church by Haralampi Tachev, 1908-1909
The mosaic is located above the three arches of the main entrance. The panel is oval shaped and is framed with a ceramic frieze; it measures 2 x 4 m. It depicts notable figures from the independent Bulgarian Orthodox church, such as the bishops Ilarion Makariopolski, Auxentius of Veles, and Paisius of Plovdiv. They hold a model of a tri-domed church, and Paisius is holding a text that reads “Covenant to the Bulgarian people.” The mosaic was created in Germany and is one of the earliest examples of mosaic decoration on public buildings in Bulgaria after the Liberation. The figures it depicts were thematically chosen to fit the building’s function, the “Bulgarian style” decoration, and the accent on national identity that was typical for art and architectural projects of the time. The mosaic’s golden background enhances the impression of the residence being a sacred space. In accordance with then contemporary tendencies in Bulgarian art, soft nuanced touches as well as light and shade effects stand out in the mosaic’s style.
Haralampi Tachev (1875-1941)
Haralampi Konstantinov Tachev was born in 1875 in the city of Plovdiv, Bulgaria. In 1902, he graduated in the first class of the State School of Drawing in Sofia, currently the National Academy of Arts, in the class of Professor Ivan Mrkvička. In 1903, Tachev was one of the founders and chairman of the association “Contemporary Art.” He was also among the creators of the Union of South Slavic artists “Lada” and the association “Southern Bulgarian Artists.” From 1910, Tachev was a professor at the National Academy of Arts, where he taught decorative arts, ornamentation, and styling. Professor Tachev was one of the first Bulgarian specialists in the field of artistic spatial design. He decorated the Bulgarian pavilions at the exhibitions in Liege (1905), Milan (1906), and London (1907). The facades and interiors of many public buildings in Bulgaria were made according to his designs. These include the Memorial Tomb of Alexander I of Battenberg (better known as the Battenberg Mausoleum) in Sofia, the Vrana Palace, the mosaics in the Sofia Central Mineral Baths, the seat of the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church (the Synodal Palace), the stained-glass windows of the National Library, the Museum House “Hristo Botev” in Kalofer, and the church “Sv. Marina” (St. Marina) in Plovdiv.
His name is associated with the creation of the Coat of arms of Sofia (1900) and the Coat of arms of Gabrovo (1935–1941). His contributions to the modern appearance of the Bulgarian capital is enormously significant. Tachev’s iconic works include: the ceramic ornamentation on the façade of the Sofia Central Mineral Baths (1910–1913), the ceramic ornamentation on the façade of the Faculty of Theology building with the National Church Historical and Archaeological Museum (Museo di Arte Sacra), the glazed ceramic tiles and mosaics in the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church (the Synodal Palace; 1908–1909), the decoration and inscriptions on some of the interior spaces of St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral (1904–1912), the interior sculptural decoration of the Vrana Palace (1912), the interior decoration of the Memorial Tomb of Alexander I of Battenberg (the Battenberg Mausoleum in Sofia, 1934), the panel with the Coat of arms of Sofia at Sofia’s Central Market Halls (1909–1911), a decorative frieze above the facade of St. Nicholas Sofia Church (1909), stained glass windows in the Ministry of Finance, and stained glass windows in the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works in “Slaveykov” square.
In addition to monumental decoration, Haralampi Tachev also created designs for banknotes, government bonds and congratulatory addresses, flags, coins, medals, covers, illustrations, vignettes, posters, postage stamps, company signs, emblems, bookplates, menus, certificates, ceremonial addresses, throne speeches, invitations, calendars, and packaging.
The artist died in Sofia in 1941.
Sofia, residence of the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.
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