Подшивалова Мария Викторовна
Южно-Уральский государственный университет

В статье приведены результаты исследования причин, которые можно найти в богословской роли, которую играют иконы в церкви. Без понимания религиозной функции эти раскрашенные картинки, иконки теряют свою значимость. Что делает искусство живым и глубоким, а не просто статичная, консервативная форма живописи, которая придерживается строгой формуле, является характер взаимоотношений между верующим и изображения. Сила иконы вытекает из его богословское значение как окно, или точку входа в мир духа. Значки, согласно пятом веке писатель св. Дионисий Ареопагит, «видимые образы таинственные и невидимые вещи». Иконы занимают в царство свое, царство между материей и духом. Этот документ призван ответить на вопрос, является ли люди, которые рисуют русских иконах художники или ремесленные рабочие.

Ключевые слова: богословие, Изучение искусства, культурологии, научно-исследовательской


Podshivalova Mariya Viktorovna
South Ural State University

The article contains the results of the research of the reasons that can be found in the theological role that icons play in the Church. Without an understanding of the religious function of these painted images, icons lose much of their significance. What makes this art alive and profound, and not simply a static, conservative form of painting that adheres to a strict formula, is the nature of the relationship between the believer and the image. The power of the icon derives from its theological importance as a window, or point of entry, into the world of the spirit. Icons are, according to the fifth century writer St. Dionysus Aeropagite, «visible images of mysterious and invisible things». Icons occupy a realm of their own, a realm between matter and spirit. This paper aims to answer the question whether the people who paint Russian icons are artists or craft-workers.

Keywords: cultural science, research, study of art, theology

Рубрика: 17.00.00 ИСКУССТВОВЕДЕНИЕ

Библиографическая ссылка на статью:
Подшивалова М.В. Russian icons: who are the people who make Russian icons? // Современные научные исследования и инновации. 2015. № 7. Ч. 5 [Электронный ресурс]. URL: https://web.snauka.ru/issues/2015/07/56314 (дата обращения: 29.01.2022).

1. The Making of an Icon

The creation of an icon is a long and laborious task that is often overlooked by its simplistic appearance. The hours of preparation of the physical icon are daunting, which does not include the time of preparation required of the iconographer himself. «To make an icon is the fulfillment of prayer», – states Father Zinon, a monk and iconographer from the Monastery of the Caves near Pskov. «You need to feel the Holy Spirit. You can feel icons only during prayer. And icons are only for prayer. An icon is a place of prayer. You paint it in the same way you prepare for a church service, with prayer and fasting. It is a liturgical work. Preparing to paint an icon is like preparing to celebrate the Holy Liturgy» [2, p.19].

Icons are made in a variety of media including bas-relief, mosaic, fresco, and even oil on canvas; however, the primary medium has been and remains egg tempera on wood panel. Selection of the wood is of vital importance. It must be made of a sturdy non-resinous wood such as oak, beech, ash, birch or cypress. Pine with low resinous content could also be used. Boards were cut from the thickest point of the tree after the trunk had been split along the grain. [5, p.188] Boards were taken from the section closest to the center of the tree to give the greatest solidity, size [if required), and strength. The frame is next carved into the board. Unlike a traditional western painting where the frame is merely an added adornment, a second entity, the frame of the icon, is made of the same wood, an integral part of the main image. The frame of an icon can carry inscriptions, prayers, or scenes from the life of the depicted saint. The main area of the picture plane was often recessed between two and five centimeters, and sometimes up to fifteen. This recession of the primary picture plane was not only for the protection of the main image but was also a useful design when the icon was being painted. A flat straight edge could be placed over the icon for the iconographer to place his hand while painting without fear of damaging other portions of the painted surface.

The frame must be set on the side of the board which is toward the center of the tree trunk. During the drying process and over the many years of an icon’s existence the rings in the wood spread out and result in warping (which is why many icons appear convex). The grain of the wood must also fit vertically with the picture plane. To help counteract the inevitable warping of the icon two horizontal wedges of a harder wood are placed into the back side. Generally, elongated trapezoid braces are placed into corresponding carved niches carved in the back with the widest end of the brace on the outer side of each side of the board to create a stable fit. The recessed area inside the frame is then lightly scored with a fine tool to hold the surface that will actually be painted, because the wood is not painted on directly. A thin, fine, loosely woven fabric is cut to size and glued to the board using natural fish glue; sturgeon glue was generally used in Russia. Gesso layers made of glue and alabaster or chalk are then added to the cloth. This step requires five to seven thin layers without air bubbles or defects of any kind and with a drying time of at least half a day between each layer. This process alone can take upwards of a week. The surface is then finely sanded to a smooth, fiat, matte finish free of chalk dust. The preparation of this portion of the icon is of critical importance because the solidity of icon image will depend on this gesso ground.

The underlying drawing of the icon is then made on the gesso surface. These preliminary drawings were made in a variety of ways:

Directly drawn on with lead pencil or etched with a stylus. These direct methods were generally reserved for master iconographers. Most iconographers kept sketches of icon patterns and designs so that they could not only use them repeatedly but also keep the tradition of the icon. These collections of sketches or guides were called “podliniki”. There was no desire to reinvent each image as it was created but to be consistent with and give reverence to past images. Novice painters would generally trace an existing icon onto paper, rub the back with red ochre powder, then the drawing would be traced over again on the prepared board, or perforate the outline of the image on paper and dust the powder through the holes leaving the image on the board.

If the icon is to be gilded for the halos or the entire background, it is applied after the initial drawing. A mixture of linseed oil, a drying agent, and varnish is layered on the areas that will be gilded. The painstaking task of applying the gold leaf is then done when the bonding mixture is almost completely dry so that it does not stick to the iconographer’s fingers. The edges of the gilded areas are then cleaned with a pointed knife and the excess gold ground to use as liquid gold.

At last, the actual painting of the icon begins. Egg tempera is the preferred and time-honored medium. Fresh yolk is separated from the white (if white gets into the mixture the resulting paint will crack) and mixed with an equal amount of water and a small amount of vinegar. Beer or kvass (a traditional beverage made from fermented rye, wheat or barley) would also be used instead of vinegar to help prevent the mixture from deterioration and reduce the greasiness of the yolk. Pigment is then added to the yolk mixture. Natural organic colors found in animal and vegetable substances and mineral pigments are used. Ground to a fine powder, they are added to the yolk mixture. The mixing of paints is an art in itself, the ratio of yolk to water to vinegar to pigment could vary greatly depending on the pigment and temperature of the season. Too much yolk and the paint would crack, too little and it would flake off; more vinegar in summer, less in winter, but prepared properly the paints become durable and resistant to chemical decomposition under the influence of sunlight.

The painting proceeds in a directed, methodical manner. First the entire icon is covered in a local color; for example, in Novgorod this often was red, in Pskov, green. The outline would then be traced again in a darker hue of this color. Thin translucent layers are built up from a dark base to lighter colors. The multiple washes of color build on the surface so that the icon is actually slightly modeled.

When the final light colors are painted, the outlines blurred by the washes are repainted. «Enliveners» are added to areas of three dimensional objects requiring the brightest touches of light. [3, p.51] A Liquid gold is then painted on the proper highlights and inscriptions are then painted and the icon is left to dry for several days or even weeks.

After fully drying, the surface of the icon is covered with olipha, a varnish made from boiled linseed oil and one or more other resins, usually amber. The layer of olipha permeates the colors of the painting, through the ground and down into the wood of the board. This both protects the icon but also gives it depth and translucency. This protective layer, unfortunately, has a tendency to darken with age while absorbing dust and ash. The layer can be carefully removed, however, to reveal brilliant colors below. Once the physical act of creating the icon is complete, one task yet remains; the blessing of the icon. The icon is kept on the altar table in the sanctuary and is formally blessed by the priest the following day after the Liturgy, preferably in the presence of the owners. Creating an icon not only requires mastery of these laborious techniques but also requires the fervent belief of the creator. The making of an icon is an act and fulfillment of prayer.

2. The Theological Meaning of the Icon

An Orthodox worshiper views icons as an integral part of the liturgy and Church tradition. Contrary to the western tradition of religious painting, icons are not decorative images meant simply to adorn church walls; rather, they are equal to the authority of the Gospels. The VIIth Ecumenical Council at Nicaea (787) established the special theological role that the veneration of images played. The Church Fathers asserted that icons were on the same level as Holy Scripture: «we preserve, without innovations, all the Church traditions established for us, whether written or not written, one of which is icon painting, as corresponding to what the Gospels preach and relate . . . For if the one is shown by the other, the one is incontestably made clear by the other » [3, p.30]. Thus, the painted images of the icon (which are still today described as having been «written» rather than painted) are ascribed the same liturgical and doctrinal importance as the written Gospels. In its function, then, the icon in the eastern Church serves a different purpose than religious imagery does in the west.

The notion that icons «do not serve religion, but are an integral part of religion, one of the instruments of the knowledge of God» is a crucial difference from the western conception of imagery as illustration or decoration [3, p.31].

Why is it said of Orthodox worshipers that they «venerate» an icon? What exactly is the relationship between the believer and the image? To answer this fundamental question it is necessary to understand the Church’s teaching on the Incarnation; namely, the notion that because the Son of God became man, it became possible to depict Him in imagery. The Divine became flesh in Christ: both human and divine united in one essence. In 451 the Council of Chalcedon (the Fourth Ecumenical Council) defined the Church’s understanding of «one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, known in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation» [4, p.39]. While this has remained the position of the Church until the present day, the issue of the dual nature of Christ was the source of much debate. Those who refused to accept this as dogma were among those responsible for the backlash against the icon during the era of Iconoclasm. Varying in intensity throughout the 8th and 9th centuries, particularly in the east, the efforts of the so-called iconoclasts, or «image-breakers,» were attempts to ban religious imagery on the grounds of idolatry. Controversial and divisive, the charges of the iconoclasts led to the destruction of icons and the whitewashing of church walls. The strongest wording in support of the creation of icons came from the church fathers at the 7th Ecumenical Council in 787 in Nicaea. The Council based its position partly on the writings of St. John of Damascus, one of the key apologists for the veneration of icons. The Council thus confirmed the appropriateness of representing Christ because of His dual nature, since He became visible, tangible, and therefore describable. The period of Iconoclasm finally came to an end in the ninth century with the efforts of Empress Theodora, who, with the sanction of the 7th Ecumenical Council of Constantinople, restored the display of icons in churches on the first Sunday of Lent in 842. Today the Sunday of the Triumph of Orthodoxy is still celebrated by Orthodox Christians around the world at the beginning of Lent to commemorate the importance of the iconic tradition.

For the Orthodox believer, it is not the actual icon that is worshiped; rather, it is the person’s on whom that image is modeled who is venerated. The icon comes to function as a window, or screen, to the holy person depicted, to lead the believer into communion with the «divinely illumined» personage represented. It is understood that there is a relationship between the image depicted in the icon and its prototype, and that contemplating the image opens our consciousness to a spiritual realm, to those mysterious and supernatural visions.

3. The Role of the Icon Painter

Because icons are not considered objects of fine art in the same way that religious paintings have been regarded in the western world, the role of the icon painter is markedly different in the view of the Orthodox Church. Throughout the history of the Eastern Church, and particularly the Russian church, the life of the icon painter held special significance. Traditionally, icon painters were first and foremost Orthodox believers. It was incumbent upon them to follow strictly fixed rules that governed not only the process of painting, but the proper spiritual groundwork in prayer and obedience. A majority of icon painters were monks who prepared themselves for the tasks of depicting holy images. Indeed, the western idea of an artist as someone who pursues his/her own imagination through a fine art medium is completely anathema to traditional icon painting. Nor were icon painters simply thought of as craftsmen, completing commissions for the ornamentation of churches; rather, they were devout believers working in the service of the Church. Pious, moral behavior was expected in the personal lives of iconographers.

The Council’s decree conveyed explicit instructions to the icon painter in terms of proper behavior and protocol with elders. It was the duty of archbishops and bishops to inspect the fruit of the icon painters labors and to ensure that the successful painter’s rights and status «above» ordinary persons be honored. It also made clear that icon painters were forbidden to fashion capricious changes to traditional imagery. Not only were arbitrary changes culled from the artist’s imagination prohibited, but serious consequences were to follow if such a path were taken. An icon painter who ignored tradition would be condemned to eternal torment.

The fact that icon painters follow a set of conventional subjects in their work has not meant that all icons are rendered mechanically. Without question, individual artists have made their mark in terms of style and quality. Andrei Rublev and Theophanes the Greek were two of the most accomplished icon painters in Russian art history, recognized for the high quality of their work and the individual pathos discerned in their respective styles.

4. The Biographies of Icon Painters and a History of Russian Icon Painting

Icons appeared in Russia soon after Grand Prince Vladimir converted Kievan Rus’ to Orthodox Christianity in 989. Legend held that Vladimir sent emissaries to observe the practices of various religions — Islam, Judaism, western Catholicism, and eastern Orthodoxy. So impressed by the beauty of the liturgy witnessed in Constantinople, the emissaries claimed to Vladimir that they «knew not whether they were in heaven or on earth….for on earth there is no such splendor or such beauty» [1, p. 45].

Their testimony, along with the fact that Vladimir’s grandmother, Olga, had herself been baptized and converted to Orthodoxy some thirty years before, undoubtedly acted as catalysts for the prince’s conversion. But another factor ultimately sealed Russia’s fate: Vladimir’s marriage to Princess Anna, sister of the Byzantine emperor. By marrying Anna, which required that Vladimir convert to Orthodoxy, he gained a powerful political ally in the east; while conversely, the Byzantine rulers could eliminate a potential threat from the west. This politically strategic move changed the course of Russian history.

The earliest church related art in Kiev was imported from Byzantium. The church of Saint Sophia, a major architectural monument in Kiev constructed in 1037 by Prince Yaroslavl’, was inspired by the magnificent Hagia Sophia in Constantinople. Along with Byzantine builders, painters arrived in Kiev to decorate early churches with frescoes and icons. One of the earliest icons to appear in Russia was the Virgin of Vladimir, painted by Greek masters and brought to Kiev around 1150. Moved to the city of Vladimir in 1155 by Prince Andrei Bogolubskii (the «God-lover») it remained housed there for over 200 years in the Cathedral of the Dormition. Understanding the potent symbolic nature of the icon, Muscovite princes transferred the work to Moscow in 1395 as the city emerged as the center of political authority. It has remained there until the present day, revered for its miracle-working power, protecting the Russian state from the time of the Mongol occupation down to recent events of political turmoil in the 19pos. The Virgin of Vladimir has inspired countless copies throughout the centuries, making the Umilenie («Tenderness») Mother of God the most popular and enduring in Russian iconography.

Early Russian icons were indebted to their Byzantine prototypes in style. Characterized by hieratic, flattened figures, emphatically frontal and stylized in form, these first Russian icons resembled the imposing authority of their Greek models. The pre-Mongol period of Russian icons painting (twelfth and early thirteenth centuries) was marked by an assimilation of Byzantine style and iconography. From the 1240s to the middle of the fourteenth century Russia was under the political domination of the Mongols khans, which effectively severed important cultural ties to Byzantium for about a hundred years. During that period local schools of icon painting flourished, particularly in the northern cities of Novgorod and Pskov. Prosperous from trade, the wealthy citizens of Novgorod had the financial means to commission great numbers of icons. A distinctive local style emerged, characterized by a strong emphasis on line and brilliant color, especially bright vermillion contrasted by areas of blue, green and white. The famous fourteenth icon of St. George the Victorious in the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg is an excellent example of the dynamic color, elegant line, and rhythmical compositional movement that typified the Novgorodian style. Moreover, the iconographical repertoire expanded considerably in this period, particularly with the depiction of saints who were of significance to the local population. St. George, for example, became enormously popular in Novgorod for his role as protector of peasants and merchants. Saints Nicholas, Elijah, and Paraskeva were also frequently depicted because of their direct links with the people.

Greek influence was once again strongly felt in Russian icon painting toward the end of the fourteenth century. Theophanes the Greek arrived in Novgorod in the 1370s from Constantinople and quickly earned a high reputation as an icon and fresco painter. His style reflected the classical revival of the Palaeologan Renaissance in Byzantium, which dated from the late thirteenth century to the fall of Constantinople in 1453. Working first in Novgorod, then in Moscow, Theophanes’ influence was significant. Greater naturalism in color, a softening of the static hieratic quality common to earlier Byzantine style, and an elegant treatment of the figure marked the freshness of vision Theophanes infused into Russian painting. These qualities influenced a younger painter in Russia, who became the greatest iconographer in Russian history – Andrei Rublev.

Rublev’s painting of The Holy Trinity (1411) is perhaps the most widely known icon in Russia. It is a national treasure that epitomizes the «golden age» of Russian icon painting. Its importance in representing the highest standard of icon painting was recognized by the Hundred Chapters Council in 1551, which claimed the work to be the most perfect example of iconic art.

What made Rublev’s Trinity so admired was the artist’s consummate skill in composition, color, and expression. The work features three angels, balanced in a rhythmical flow and unified around a central table in a perfect circle. The elegant treatment of line and subtle color harmonies (brilliant shades of blue and green) adds to the masterful depiction of the symbolic union of a triune God. Rublev was a monk at the Trinity-Sergius Monastery, where he dedicated himself to the teachings of St. Sergius of Radonezh. St. Sergius was revered for leading a life devoted to prayer, self-discipline, and forging peace. The Trinity was especially venerated by Sergius as a concept that symbolized perfect unity; Rublev’s icon resonated with his message of spiritual peace. Rublev’s Trinity also serves as an excellent example of a key feature of icon painting: inverse, or reverse, perspective. Although painted in the fifteenth century, at a time when western artists were developing the system of linear perspective, Rublev’s work features a strikingly different way of handling pictorial space. Antithetical to the Renaissance notion of a «window onto space» the space in an icon operates on the opposite premise: rather than depicting the illusion of a receding space, the space in an icon advances out toward the viewer. The focal point is not within the painting, but outside it, converging in front of the icon at the point of the viewer. The viewer, in this system, becomes an active participant in the spatial dynamic – not in the western sense that pictorial space reproduces the illusion of the viewer’s natural world, but in the sense that the spiritual (i.e., illogical) realm of iconic space embraces the viewer.

Icon painting became largely standardized in the sixteenth century. In the mid- 1550s the Hundred Chapters Council codified the path that icon painters were expected to take: «The painters will reproduce the ancient models, those of the Greek icon painters, of Andrei Rublev, and other famous painters…in nothing will the painters follow their own imaginations» [4, p.92].

As a result of increasing communications with western Europe, a major departure from tradition occurred in the seventeenth century. In the 16oos foreign diplomats arrived in Moscow, along with foreign architects and engineers commissioned to undertake building projects in the city. Although Russia never experienced the Renaissance in the western sense of the word, by the seventeenth century western naturalism had filtered through to influence Russian artists.

One of the last great icon painters in Russia, Simon Ushakov, created a hybrid style that blended traditional painting with the western pictorial devices of linear perspective and three-dimensional modeling of figures. The result was a complex merging of west and east, seen in the development of a type of portrait icon called a “parsana”, which Ushakov pioneered in his workshops at the Kremlin Armory. The “parsana” was a portrait, in the western secular sense, painted in a naturalistic style (three-dimensional modeling of the figure) in the context of a traditional icon. For some this was innovation; for others, it signaled an unwelcome dilution. Ridding traditional painting of foreign elements was one issue that divided the church in the Great Schism beginning in 1667. The religious reforms of Patriarch Nikon met with vehement opposition by the archpriest Avvakum, who led a movement to rid Russia of all impure (western) influences. Avvakum and his followers, who became known as the Old Believers, destroyed icons that bore the influences of the west, such as those produced by Ushakov.

Eventually the unwillingness of the Old Believers to adapt to new circumstances resulted in their alienation from the mainstream of the church, and, in some cases, to their persecution. But the division within the church had long-lasting ramifications. It would open the door to the greatest ‘westernizer’ in Russian history: Peter the Great with the reign of Peter the Great (1689-1725) Russia opened to the west in nearly every sphere of life. Adopting western modes of thought, dress, and customs, Peter set into motion a radical restructuring of cultural life. Aspects of European Baroque art were now found in Russian architecture, painting, and sculpture. Icon painting also changed dramatically in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as Russia integrated more fully with the rest of Europe. Beginning with Peter, and continuing with Catherine the Great and the Romanov tsars in the nineteenth century, Russian rulers supported the secular arts that emulated European styles. Thus the Baroque and Neo-classical styles that dominated Europe found their counterparts in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Icon painting in the nineteenth century experienced a decline generally. The use of oil paint (instead of traditional tempera) allowed artists to convey an even greater degree of illusionism; icons produced in this era are strikingly realistic in style. Iconographically, however, the images still adhered to the strict rules that had been sanctioned by the church centuries earlier. Icons were now decorated with elaborate metalwork covers that protected the painting underneath. Brass and silver “oklads” became popular, and several studios opened in Moscow and St. Petersburg that specialized in fine silver, including the workshops of Carl Faberge, Pavel Ovchinnikov, and Ivan Khlebnikov.

Another trend in the nineteenth century was the wider distribution of cheaper, mass-produced icons that were not as refined in technique.

Several centers of production emerged, including that of Palekh, which is better known today for the production of traditional wooden lacquer boxes. A good deal of the preservation of older techniques of hand-painting remained in the hands of the Old Believers, who still, at the end of the nineteenth century, were occupied with safeguarding traditional Orthodox life.

The early years of the twentieth century witnessed a revival of icon painting. Interestingly, the catalyst for this resurgence was the generation of avant-garde artists that included Natalia Goncharova, Mikhail Larionov, Kazimir Malevich, and Vasilii Kandinsky. The early modernist vanguard discovered an expressive potential in the color and line of icon painting that resonated in the context of postimpressionist and early modern art – flattened pictorial space, bold and arbitrary color, and rejection of linear perspective. The Russian avant-garde encouraged a new appreciation of an ancient tradition. In the years before the first world war, a large-scale effort to clean and restore old icon paintings permitted a new generation to see the works in their original colors; not only did it inspire native artists, but also westem painters such as Matisse, who visited Moscow in 1911, were deeply influenced by the alternative ways of seeing that icons suggested.

Icon painting continues in contemporary Russia. It is an Art that has seen another revival since the political demise of the Soviet Union in 1991. Although icon painting was not entirely stamped out after the Russian revolution in 1917, the Church suffered a great deal during seventy years of Communist rule. Many churches had to close, priests were victimized, and consequently the art of icon painting became a rare enterprise. In the decade of the 1990s, however, Russians experienced a renewed connection to their faith and a return to the spiritual life of the Church. Seminaries are now active; icon painters are reestablishing their native craft. While political circumstances may have radically changed, the fundamental content of icons has not. The spiritual power of the icon in the life of Orthodox believers remains much the same in the twenty-first century as it did a thousand years ago.


The iconography, thus the creation of sacred images, came together with the humankind, and for many centuries it was the only form of painting. Since the «legalization» of Christianity and up to the so-called Renaissance (that is, until the 15th century in Europe, and up to the 17th century in Russia), painting and iconography cannot be separated. The main idea of the whole sacred Christian painting is the creating images of the Savior, Mary, the Holy Trinity, angels and saints, any other symbolic ideas and the holy stories.

The first true Russian artists were definitely iconographers who borrowed techniques of the iconography from the Greek icon painters. The first known icons are “Kapponiyskie” icons painted by such masters of the ancient iconography as Andrey Ilyin, Sergei Vasiliev, Nikita Ivanov.

The first information about the painter’s biography which has reached our days is a biography of st. Alipii, a canonized monk who lived in the 12th century and who studied the iconography of the Greek masters. Many of his works have been performed accompanying heavenly signs. Unless this case, the names of many painters have not reached our time. Unlike Western artists, Russian painters often didn’t sign their icons, because they believed the God painted icons by their hands and their own signature was only a manifestation of pride, which was a sin.

Nevertheless thank some masters painters kept their names due to the fact that the process of painting of icons was accompanied by miraculous phenomena, or their icons were so expressive, that the tracings from these painters and icons are still in use in our time. Those masters of iconography should include Theophanes the Greek, who lived in the 14th century, and Andrei Rublev, who lived in the early 15th century. Andrei Rublev became known for his paintings of the Blagoveshensk Church of Vladimir-on-Kliazma and the Blagoveshensk Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin. Rublev’s painting of The Holy Trinity is perhaps the most widely known icon in Russia. It is a national treasure that epitomizes the «Golden Age» of Russian icon painting. Design of his famous the Holy Trinity are still used by iconographers, and frankly speaking another composition of this icon is hard to imagine.

Training schools of icon painting were based on the transfer of experience from master to disciple, and the first such masters were Greek artists. In the 16th century Ivan the Terrible, along with architects and sculptors, brought those artists from abroad. The historical sources mention that in the reign of Fyodor Ivanovich, Russian Art characterized by the presence of both fine quality pictorial icons and mosaics, made ​​by Russian craftsmen. Thus, until the reign of Alexei Mikhailovich Romanov, iconography was the main type of the Russian fine arts. The known and available techniques and materials were mosaic, fresco, encaustic, glue and egg tempera, water and oil paints. For those reasons, I would say that people who made Russian icons were the true Artists, and cannot be claimed as the craft-workers.

  1. Forest J. Praying with Icons.  New York: Orbis Books, 1997.P. 19-20.
  2. Sendler E. The Icon: image of the invisible. Hong Kong: Oakwood Publications, 1988.P. 188
  3. Ouspensky L, Lossky V. The Meaning of Icons. Crestwood, NT: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1982. P. 51-55.
  4. Quenot M. Window on the Kingdom.Crestwood, NV: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1996. P. 39.
  5. Billington J. The icon and the Axe; an interpretive History of Russian Culture. New York: Knopf, 1966. P. 45

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