Byzantine Art

 


 

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Russian Architecture and Russian Icons

 

 

 

Slav Art

Although Byzantine art had a profound influence on that of eastern Slavs (Russians, Bielo-Russians, and Ukrainians) and southern Slavs (Bulgars, Croats, Macedonians, Serbs, and Slovenes) over a long period, the individual contribution of these ethnic groups was equally important - hence the differences between the major schools: Bulgar, Serb, and Russian. The Slaws built temples of wood, decorating them with sculptures and paintings, and their beauty was noted first in the the tenth century by the Arabic-geographer al-Masudi and then in the 11th century by Bishop Thietmar of Merseburg. It is probable that the mysterious decorations of the 12th-century stone church of Vladimir and Suzdal originate in the kontine, the sacred buildings of the Slavs that were painted outside in bright, almost indelible colours, and decorated inside with carvings of wild beasts and birds. Sculptures of idols in wood or stone, and gods with gold and silver inlay, confirm the influence of ancient Slav art on stone architecture, which became widespread after the conversion of the Slavs to Christianity. This influence is evident in the churches of the Rus in Kiev, where Russian art flourished from the tenth century until the age of Peter the Great (1672-1725). When the Tartars invaded, the art centres shifted from Kiev towards the north, initially to Novgorod and Pskov and later to Moscow.
               


The Ploughman Premysl is Summoned to Court, mural, 12th century Rotunda,
Znojmo, Czech Republic Premysl was the founder of the Slav dynasty which united the
Czech populations and led !o the founding of the kingdom of Bohemia

 
 
 

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Russian architecture

(From Wikipedia)

The first examples of monumental architecture in Russia (as well as in Belarus and Ukraine) were the great churches of "Rus", built after the adoption of Christianity in 988. The Old Russian architectural style which quickly established itself was strongly influenced by the Byzantine. Early Russian Orthodox churches were mainly made of wood with the simplest form of church becoming known as a cell church. Major cathedrals often featured scores of small domes, which led some art historians to take this as an indication of what the pagan Slavic temples should have looked like. The Church of the Tithes was the first prominent building to be made of stone in the 10th century. The earliest Kievan churches were built and decorated with frescoes and mosaics by Byzantine masters. A great example of an early Russo-Byzantine church was the 13-domed Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kiev (1037-54) but unfortunately much of its exterior has been altered with time. Saint Sophia Cathedral in Novgorod (1044-52), on the other hand, is a purely Russian structure. Its austere thick walls, small narrow windows, and helmeted cupolas have much in common with the Romanesque architecture of Western Europe. Even further departure from Byzantine models is evident in succeeding cathedrals of Novgorod: St Nicholas's (1113), St Anthony's (1117-19), and St George's (1119). By the end of the 12th century the centre of Russian political life had moved from Kiev to the northern principality of Vladimir-Suzdal. The local churches were built of white stone by Romanesque masters of Friedrich Barbarossa, whilst their wall statuary was elaborately carved by craftsmen from Georgia. These churches mark the highest point of pre-Mongolian Russian architecture. The most important Vladimir churches are the Assumption Cathedral (built 1158-60, enlarged 1185-98, frescoes 1408) and St Demetrios' Cathedral (built 1194-97). Another miraculously preserved church is the graceful Intercession Church on the Nerl (1165), one of the most charming images of medieval Russia. Celebrated as these structures are, the contemporaries were even more impressed by churches of Southern Rus, particularly the Svirskaya Church of Smolensk (1191-94). As southern structures were either ruined or rebuilt, restoration of their original outlook has been a source of contention between art historians. The most memorable reconstruction is the Pyatnitskaya Church in Chernigov (1196-99), by Peter Baranovsky. Secular architecture of Kievan Rus is scarcely known. Up to the 20th century, only the Golden Gates of Vladimir, despite much 18th-century restoration, could be regarded as an authentic monument of pre-Mongolian period. In the 1940s, the archaeologist Nikolai Voronin discovered the well-preserved remains of Andrei Bogolyubsky's palace in Bogolyubovo, dating from 1158-65.

 


Saint Sophia Cathedral

Kiev, Ukraine
1037-1086

 

The Saint Sophia Cathedral was built in 11 century. It is situated in a very heart of the city. There are 260 square meters of mosaics left and 300 square meters of frescoes left through the centuries. It's impossible to find such church with so much frescoes of 11 century left. There are the monastery buildings dating from 17th century and conducted in Ukrainian baroque style around the cathedral. The exterior of the cathedral is still the same. In the end of 18 the iconostasis appeared and in 19th century and iron floor plates. The Saint Sophia of Kiev it's a great treasuries of art, a great example of Byzantian and ancient Russian architeture. The great huge mosaic of Saint Virgin Mary (6 meters height) in the central part of the cathedral is impressing. It is made of different stone and glass plates (about 177 different colors). The architectural shapes and the paintings form the unique unity. Frescoes like the ornaments decorate the walls, columns and the vaults you can see there the images of the saints and Evangelic motives. Unlike the other examples of Byzantic church painting this frescoes have not only biblical and mythological but also common motives among them there are portraits of great prince Yaroslaw Mudriy and his family. The great prince Yaroslaw Mudriy (which means wise in Russian) is an outstanding figure in the history of early Kiev Russia. In the first half of ht 11 century he ruled this great country, which occupied the significant part of Eastern Russia. It was also one of the most civilized countries in Europe. Yaroslaw adjusted the communications with other European countries. He married the Swedish princess Ingigerde. His sisters were married on members of Polish and Czech royal families, his sons were married to Byzantian and German princesses and daughters were married to kings of France, Hungary and Norway. Yaroslaw The wise has laid the foundation of St. Sophia Cathedral.

 

Saint Sophia Cathedral, Kiev, Ukraine, 1037-1086

 

 

 

Saint Sophia Cathedral, Kiev, Ukraine, 1037-1086

 

Saint Sophia Cathedral, Kiev, Ukraine, 1037-1086

 

 

Saint Sophia Cathedral, Kiev, Ukraine, 1037-1086

 

Saint Sophia Cathedral, Kiev, Ukraine, 1037-1086

 

 

 

Saint Sophia Cathedral, Kiev, Ukraine, 1037-1086
         

 
 

Saint Sophia Cathedral, Kiev, Ukraine, 1037-1086

Saint Sophia Cathedral, Kiev, Ukraine, 1037-1086

 
 

Saint Sophia Cathedral, Kiev, Ukraine, 1037-1086

Saint Sophia Cathedral, Kiev, Ukraine, 1037-1086

 
 

          

See also:
 
  COLLECTION:
Russian Architecture and Russian Icons

 


 

Moscow School, The Annunciation,
late 16th century,
Ambroveneto Collection

 
 

RUSSIAN ICONS

Russian iconic art dates back to 988, the year when Vladimir. Grand Duke of Kievan Russia, married a Byzantine princess and converted to Christianity. It took its cultural and spiritual inspiration wholly from Greek sources and became the art of the clergy, deliberately creating a wide gulf between itself and the secular world. As art flourished in cities and monasteries, identifiable schools appeared in Vladimir, Suzdal, Rostov, Yaroslavl, Kiev, and Novgorod. From the outset, the Russians showed a predilection for icons rather than large-scale frescos. Large panels painted in wax w ere installed on a screen separating the sanctuary from the main body of the church (the iconostasis), sometimes forming an entire wall of icons. The icons spiritual significance lay in the arrangement, position, and gradual revelation of its image. Layers of colour become progressively more luminous, set off by thin lines of white lead, and there is no depth, no perspective, and no conscious stylistic evolution to compare with that of the West. In Russia, Greece, and the Peloponnese, iconographic art is the art of variations on a theme, combining a simple language with a highly complex content, both in small domestic pictures and in large, awe-inspiring panels. The figure of the Mother of God, the gospel narrative, the figures of the warrior saints (favourite of all imperial Byzantine art subjects), and significant prophets, patriarchs, holy bishops, and monks are all recurring images.


 


Constantinople School,
The Vladimir Virgin, 12th century.
State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow
 

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