2023 Author: Leah Sherlock | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-08-25 09:26
Starting from the period of the baptism of Russia, which came at the end of the 10th century, a peculiar and unique art developed in the depths of the Orthodox Church, which received the name - Russian icon painting. It was she who for almost seven centuries remained the core of Russian culture, and only during the reign of Peter I was pressed by secular painting.
Icons of the pre-Mongol period
It is known that, together with Orthodoxy, Russia borrowed from Byzantium the achievements of its culture, which were further developed in the Kiev principality. If the painting of the first Church of the Tithes built in Kyiv was carried out by overseas masters invited by Prince Vladimir, then very soon Russian icon painters appeared in Pereyaslavl, Chernigov, Smolensk and in the capital itself, which was called the Mother of Russian cities. It is rather difficult to distinguish their works from the icons painted by Byzantine teachers, since the originality of the national school had not yet been fully established in the pre-Mongolian period.
To this day, very few works made during that period have survived, but even among them there are genuine masterpieces. The most striking of them is the double-sided Novgorod icon "The Savior Not Made by Hands",written by an unknown master at the end of the 12th century, on the back of which the scene “Adoration of the Cross” is depicted. For more than eight centuries, it has amazed the viewer with the accuracy of the drawing and its smooth modeling. Currently, the icon is in the collection of the State Tretyakov Gallery. The photo of this icon opens the article.
Another, no less famous work of the pre-Mongolian period, exhibited in the State Russian Museum of St. Petersburg, is also a Novgorod icon, known as the “Angel of Golden Hair”. The face of the angel, full of subtle emotionality and deep lyricism, gives the viewer an impression of calmness and clarity. Russian icon painters inherited the ability to convey such feelings in their entirety from their Byzantine teachers.
Icon art of the times of the Tatar-Mongol yoke
The invasion of Russia by Khan Batu, which marked the beginning of the period of the Tatar-Mongol yoke, radically influenced the way of life of the state. Russian icon painting did not escape his influence either. Most of the previously formed art centers were captured and ruined by the Horde, and those who had passed the common fate experienced difficult times, which could not but affect the general artistic level of the works created in them.
Nevertheless, even in this difficult period, Russian icon painters managed to create their own school of painting, which took its rightful place in the history of world culture. Its special rise was marked by the second half of the 14th and almost the entire 15th century. During this period, a whole galaxy of outstanding masters worked in Russia, the mosta well-known representative of which was Andrei Rublev, who was born in the Principality of Moscow around 1360.
Author of the immortal "Trinity"
Having taken monastic vows with the name of Andrei (his worldly name is unknown) in 1405, the master took part in the painting of the Annunciation Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin, and then the Assumption Cathedral in Vladimir. Andrey Rublev performed these large-scale works together with two other outstanding masters - Feofan Grek and Daniil Cherny, which will be discussed below.
The work of the master is considered the pinnacle in Russian icon painting, which none of the masters could reach. The most striking and famous of his works is the "Trinity" - the icon of Rublev, now stored in the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow.
Using an Old Testament plot based on an episode described in the 18th chapter of the Book of Genesis (Hospitality of Abraham), the master created a composition, for all its traditional character, far surpassing all other analogues. Rejecting unnecessary, in his opinion, narrative details, he focused the viewer's attention on three angelic figures, symbolizing the Trinitarian God - the visible image of which is the Holy Trinity.
The image symbolizing Divine love
The Rublev icon clearly demonstrates the unity of the three Divine hypostases. This is achieved by the fact that the compositional solution is based on a circle, which is formed by the figures of angels. Such a unity, in which separately taken individuals are one whole, serves as a prototype of thathigh love, to which Jesus Christ called. Thus, the "Trinity" - the icon of Rublev, has become a kind of expression of the spiritual orientation of all Christianity.
Andrey Rublev died on October 17, 1428, becoming a victim of a pestilence that broke out in Moscow. He was buried on the territory of the Andronikov Monastery, where death interrupted his work on the painting of the Spassky Cathedral. In 1988, by decision of the Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church, monk Andrei (Rublev) was canonized as a saint.
Great Master's Mentor
In the history of Russian icon painting, next to Andrei Rublev is his contemporary Daniil Cherny. The icons, more precisely, the frescoes, made by them during the painting of the Assumption Cathedral in Vladimir, are so similar in their artistic features that experts often find it difficult to establish a specific authorship.
Researchers have a number of reasons to believe that, fulfilling joint orders with Rublev, Daniil acted as an older and more experienced master, perhaps even a mentor. On this basis, art historians tend to attribute to him those works in which the influence of the former icon painting school of the 14th century is most clearly visible. The most striking example is the fresco "Bosom of Abraham", which has survived to this day in the Assumption Cathedral of Vladimir. A photo of one of the fragments of the painting of this cathedral precedes this section of the article.
Daniil Cherny, like Andrey Rublev, died as a result of the pestilence of 1528, and was buried next to him in the Andronikov Monastery. Both artists leftafter themselves there are many students for whom the drawings and sketches they created served as models for future works.
Russian painter of Byzantine origin
The work of Theophan the Greek can serve as a no less striking example of icon painting of this period. Born in 1340 in Byzantium (hence his nickname), he learned the secrets of the art, learning from the recognized masters of Constantinople and Chalcedon.
Arriving in Russia as an already formed painter, and settling in Novgorod, Feofan began a new stage in his career with painting, which has come down to our times in the Church of the Transfiguration of the Savior. The frescoes made by the master, depicting the Almighty Savior, forefathers, prophets, as well as a number of biblical scenes, have also been preserved in it.
His artistic style, distinguished by high harmony and completeness of compositions, was recognized by his contemporaries, and the master had followers. This is clearly evidenced by the murals of the churches of the Assumption of the Virgin and Theodore Stratelit, made in the same period by other artists, but retaining clear signs of the influence of painting by the Byzantine master.
However, Theophanes the Greek's creativity was revealed in its entirety in Moscow, where he moved in 1390, having lived for some time and worked in Nizhny Novgorod. In the capital, the master was engaged not only in painting temples and houses of we althy citizens, but also in creating icons and book graphics.
It is generally accepted that under his leadership, several Kremlin churches were painted, amongwhich the Church of the Nativity of the Virgin, the Archangel Michael and the Annunciation. The creation of a number of famous icons is attributed to his authorship - “The Transfiguration of the Lord” (photo in this section of the article), “The Don Icon of the Mother of God”, and also “The Assumption of the Mother of God”. The master passed away in 1410.
A worthy successor to the masters of the past
The continuer of the artistic traditions laid down by Andrei Rublev and his contemporaries was Dionysius, an icon painter whose icons, made for the Cathedral Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Joseph-Volokolamsk Monastery, as well as frescoes and the iconostasis of the Ferapont Monastery, have forever entered the treasury of Russian culture.
It is known that Dionysius, unlike most domestic icon painters, was not a monk. He carried out most of the orders together with his sons Vladimir and Theodosius. Quite a few works have survived to this day, made either by the artist himself or by the artel headed by him. The most famous of them are the icons - "The Baptism of the Lord", "Odegetria Mother of God" (next photo), "Descent into Hell", as well as a number of other works.
The years of his life are not precisely established, it is only known that the master was born around 1444, and the date of death is called approximately 1502-1508. But his contribution not only to Russian, but also to world culture is so great that by decision of UNESCO, 2002 was declared the year of Dionysius.
Russian icon painters of the 17th century. Simon Ushakov
Any division of historical space into periods of artistic upsurgeor decline, is very conditional, since even in periods of time that are not marked by the appearance of significant works, the prerequisites for their future creation are undoubtedly formed.
This can be clearly seen in the example of how the peculiarities of the social and spiritual life of Russia in the 16th century gave impetus to changes that gave rise to new artistic forms of fine art in the next century.
Certainly, the most striking and original creative personality of the 17th century was the icon painter of the capital Simon Ushakov (1626 - 1686). Early in learning the secrets of craftsmanship, at the age of twenty-two he was hired as an artist of the Silver Chamber of the Armory Order, where his duties included making sketches for the manufacture of church utensils and luxury items.
Besides, the young master painted banners, drew maps, designed ornaments for handicrafts and did a lot of similar work. He also had to paint images for various temples and private houses. Over time, it was this area of \u200b\u200bcreativity that brought him fame and honor.
After being transferred to the staff of the Armory (1656), Simon Ushakov firmly established himself as the most recognized artist of his time. No other Moscow icon painter had such fame, and was not so favored by the royal favors. This allowed him to live a life of honor and contentment.
Despite the fact that Russian icon painters were obliged to paint their works exclusively according to ancient patterns, Ushakov boldly used individualelements of Western painting, samples of which by that time appeared in increasing numbers in Russia. Remaining on the basis of the original Russian-Byzantine traditions, but at the same time creatively reworking the achievements of European masters, the artist created a new, so-called Fryazh style, which was further developed in the work of icon painters of a later period. This article provides a photo of his famous icon "The Last Supper", painted by the master in 1685 for the Assumption Cathedral of the Trinity-Sergius Lavra.
Outstanding fresco painter
The second half of the 17th century was marked by the work of another outstanding master - Gury Nikitin. Born in Kostroma, presumably in the early 1620s, he was engaged in painting from a young age. However, the novice master gained serious experience in Moscow, where in 1653, together with an artel of his countrymen, he painted a number of metropolitan churches.
Gury Nikitin, whose work every year was more and more perfect, became known primarily as a master of fresco painting. Many murals made in monasteries and individual churches in Moscow, Yaroslavl, Kostroma, Pereslavl-Zalessky and Suzdal have survived to this day.
A characteristic feature of the frescoes, made by the master on biblical scenes, is their festive colors and rich symbolism, for which during the life of the artist they were often reproached for secularizing art, that is, reorienting it to the problems of the perishable world. In addition, the result of his creative search was a special artistic technique that allowed the master to createin his compositions an extraordinary spatial effect. It entered the history of art under the name "Gury Nikitin's formulas". The famous icon painter died in 1691.
Creativity of Feodor Zubov
And finally, speaking about the icon painting of the 17th century, one cannot fail to mention the name of another outstanding master - this is Feodor Zubov (1646-1689). Born in Smolensk, in the early 1650s, as a teenager, he moved to Veliky Ustyug, where he painted the icon of the Savior Not Made by Hands for one of the churches, which immediately created his reputation as a mature artist.
Over time, his fame spread so widely throughout Russia that the artist was summoned to Moscow and enrolled in the staff of icon painters of the Armory, where he then served for more than forty years. After the death of Simon Ushakov, who for many years headed the masters assembled there, Feodor Zubov took his place. Among other works of the master, the icon “Apostolic Ministry” received special fame, the photo of which completes the article. A worthy contribution to the development of Russian art was made by the sons of Zubov - Ivan and Alexei, who became one of the best domestic engravers in the Petrine era.
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