The President of Russia has awarded the Order of Friendship to William Brumfield, American historian of Russian architecture
On October 28, President Vladimir Putin signed an executive order on the award of Russian Federation state prizes. For services in the strengthening of friendship and cooperation among nations and peoples, the Order of Friendship is bestowed on William Craft Brumfield, Professor in the Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages at Tulane University (New Orleans).
William Brumfield is a great friend of the Vologda region. More than thirty years ago he became interested in the architecture of the Russian North and understood that he should record our unique churches and monasteries. Since that time he has tirelessly traveled widely in Russia photographing architectural monuments, publishing books about them and lecturing throughout the world. Vologda and the Vologda region occupy an especially distinguished place in his work.
Brumfield first traveled to the USSR in 1970 as a student at the University of California, Berkeley. Shortly before the trip he purchased his first camera. The shots that he brought back from the Soviet Union became a sensation at the university. Realizing that he had a calling in photographing architectural monuments, he began to study Russian architecture while completing a doctorate in Slavic languages (as a philologist studying Russian language and literature. In 1983 Brumfield released his first book, Gold in Azure: One Thousand Years of Russian Architecture, illustrated with his photographs. Following this, there ensued hundreds of trips in the most remote corners of Russia, thousands of photographs, dozens of articles, publications and books, including many devoted to the historic towns of the Vologda region: Velikii Ustiug, Kirillov, Ferapontovo, Ustiuzhna, Tot’ma, Belozersk, Cherepovets and, of course, Vologda. Since 2005 Brumfield has published a series of books on the historic towns of the Vologda region: Velikii Ustiug (2007), Kirillov. Ferapontovo (2009), Ustiuzhna (2010), Belozersk (2011), Vologda (2012), Cherepovets (2017). In 2005 there appeared a volume devoted to the architectural heritage of Tot’ma in his series “Discovering Russia”.
During the course of his work, William Brumfield has lived in the USSR and Russia for over fifteen years and has visited Vologda several dozen times. He especially loves to photograph the Saint Sophia Cathedral, in winter and summer, at various times of day, capturing light and finding new perspectives. At the beginning of this century the portal “Culture in the Vologda Region” created a site in both Russian and English to display tens of thousands of photographs of Russian architectural monuments taken by the professor. From time to time he gives public lectures in Vologda and meets with journalists to talk about his work. The last such meeting occurred at the beginning of June at the Babushkin Regional Library.
“In a certain sense I am a unique person. No one else does what I do,” Brumfield admits. “I created my path and continue to disseminate this work. By no means everyone likes this. To occupy oneself with Russian culture can be difficult. But I found my refuge and I find allies who help me. In my area I have become a world-renowned specialist, and the work continues to inspire me. I call this divine providence.”
The editors of “Culture in the Vologda Region” congratulate Professor Brumfield on his award!