Old Russian icon painting

The Old Russian painting collection of the Moscow State Integrated Museum-Reserve includes unique icons of the XVI – XIX centuries and numbers over 2,000 items. Icons of the greatest art skill and profound symbolic content (such as ‘Our Lady of Mount Nerukosechnaya’, ‘The Virgin of the Burning Bush’ and ‘Saviour ubrus, Weep not for me Mother’ that was painted by order of Ivan the Terrible) are real masterpieces of the XVI century Russian icon painting.

Our Lady of Mount Nerukosechnaya, the 1560’s

Milestones in the History of Kolomenskoye exposition
at the Front Gate of the Tsar’s Courtyard in Kolomenskoye

The Virgin of the Burning Bush, end of the XVI century

Milestones in the History of Kolomenskoye exposition
at the front gate of the Tsar’s Courtyard in Kolomenskoye

 

Saviour ubrus, Weep not for me Mother, the 1570s

Milestones in the History of Kolomenskoye exposition
at the Front Gate of the Tsar’s Courtyard in Kolomenskoye

 

The Dormition of the Theotokos icon created in the first third of the XVII century is associated withMoscow courtyard culture as it was painted by Nazary Istomin Savin, Tsar’s courtyard icon painter, in his typical exquisite art and colour technique. In the XVIII century, the icon was enframed with a silver rococo framework.

Dormition of the Theotokos, 1621
(framework made in 1799)

Moscow, the Patriarchal workshops

Milestones in the History of Kolomenskoye exposition
at the Front Gate of the Tsar’s Courtyard in Kolomenskoye

 

The most valuable items of the collection are the three Deesis icons from the famous wooden Palace of Tsar Alexey Mikhailovich in Kolomenskoye.

Deesis: ‘Christ Emmanuel on the throne with Saints Artemon and Evdokia prostrated before him’, ‘Theotokos’, ‘St.John the Baptist’

Moscow Kremlin Armoury workshops, the 1670s

Milestones in the History of Kolomenskoye exposition
at the Front Gate of the Tsar’s Courtyard in Kolomenskoye

 

Christ Emmanuel, the central icon of the Deesis, represents young Christ on the throne with St. Artemon and Evdokia prostrated before him. Artemon and Evdokia were patron saints of boyar Artamon Matveev and his wife, who ordered to paint the icon. Artamon Matveev (1625-1682) was a prominent statesman and diplomat who played a significant role at the court of Tsar Alexey Mikhailovich during the last years of his reign and the teacher of Natalya Naryshkina, the second wife of the Tsar. The “Deesis” icons were painted by an unknown master from the Kremlin Armoury workshop in the 1670s.

The Moscow State Integrated Museum-Reserve includes icons painted by famous courtyard masters who were known as the Tsar’s isographs in the second half and at the end of the XVII century. Some icons such as The Old Testament Trinity (1677, by Simon Ushakov and Nikita Pavlovets), St Nicholas of Myra (1677, by Fedor Zubov) and The Virgin of Tikhvin with the legend (1698, by Kirill Ulanov) stand out among other icons painted by the Tsar’s isographs.

The Old Testament Trinity
(masters: Simon Ushakov, Nikita Pavlovets)

Moscow Kremlin Armoury workshops, 1677

Russian XVII Century Art Treasures exposition at the Tsarevnas’ Tower of the
Palace ofTsar Alexey Mikhailovich in Kolomenskoye

 

St Nicholas of Myra
 (master: Fedor Zubov)

Moscow Kremlin Armoury workshops, 1677

Russian XVII Century Art Treasures exposition in the Tsarevnas’ Tower of the
Palace ofTsar Alexey Mikhailovich in Kolomenskoye

 

The Virgin of Tikhvin with the legend
(master: Kirill Ulanov)

Moscow Kremlin Armoury workshops, 1697

Russian XVII Century Art Treasures exposition in the Tsarevnas’ Tower of the
Palace ofTsar Alexey Mikhailovich in Kolomenskoye

 

A special section of the museum-reserve collection includes icons painted in the XVI-XIX centuries and representing Russian saints standing against monasteries, cathedrals and towns they had built and become famous for. These icons make up a unique topical collection depicting Russian architecture monuments.

The Blessed Vsevolod-Gabriel, Prince of Pskov’ icon painted in the XVI century represents the saint holding the Trinity Cathedral of Pskov that he built in 1137.

Blessed Vsevolod, in Holy Baptism Gabriel, the Prince of Pskov,
end of the XVI century

Milestones in the History of Kolomenskoye exposition
at the Front Gate of the Tsar’s Courtyard in Kolomenskoye

Some icons represent the architecture ensembles of entire towns. For example, the Archangel Michael icon (1741, by local painter Grigory Popov) depicts the panorama of Archangelsk.

Archangel Michael, Arkhangelsk, 1741
(master: Grigory Popov)

Milestones in the History of Kolomenskoye exposition
at the front gate of the Tsar’s Courtyard in Kolomenskoye

 

The icon representing Alexy, Metropolitan of Moscow, against the Kremlin as well as icons of St. Nil Stolbensky, Joseph Volotsky, Paphnuty Borovsky and Alexander Oshevensky provide rich material for reconstruction of ancient views ofMoscow,Novgorod,Arkhangelskand Great Ustyug as well as monasteries such as Volokolamsky, Unzhensky, Solovetsky, Nilova hermitage and many others. Such paintings are a unique resource of information on the Russian medieval architecture history.

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