Annals 6: “A Stone Lives On”: Vasily Konovalenko’s Gem Carving Sculptures at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science
The Denver Museum of Nature & Science (DMNS) has on display 20 wonderful, whimsical gem-carving sculptures by Russian master artist Vasily Konovalenko. To date, very little has been published on the artist or his work, particularly in English. Since 2009, DMNS curator of archaeology Steve Nash and photographer Rick Wicker have been working to fill that gap in our knowledge. They have traveled the world to photograph and fully document the Konovalenko gem-carving sculptures. As of late 2014, they have examined and documented more than 95% of the known pieces, totaling more than 70 sculptures. This paper focuses on the 20 DMNS sculptures by offering background information on the artist and his career, both informed by oral histories with the artist’s wife, Anna, and others. Coupled with Wicker’s high-resolution photographs and a mineralogical analysis by curator of geology James T. Hagadorn, Nash’s research reveals Konovalenko’s remarkable and world-class talent for making silent stones speak.