Russian Icons

30 September 2013

Icon painting became a tradition in ancient Rus’ after its convertion to Orthodox Christianity in 988 CE. These icons (иконы) followed the model and the formulas established by Byzantine art. However, as time passed, Russia widened the range of types and styles more than any other country in the Orthodox world.

Russian icons are often painted on wood, and their size is often small, although some in churches and monasteries can be very big. In Russian churches, they are often located in a special part called ikonostas (иконостас), a wall of icons with double doors in the centre. Icons are a transposition of the Gospel in paint, so they faithfully and accurately follow the Sacred Text without manipulating them.

Russians often commissioned icons for their houses, adding figures of important saints for the family next to the icon’s central figure. The painter of the icon was often anonymous, because he did not look for individual glory, but had the sole aim of serving God. However, the name of Andrei Rublev (Андрей Рублев) is still remembered, since he was made saint for his great works in the Middle Ages. His most famous work is The Old Testament Trinity (Троица Ветхозаветная).

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