Voices from Russia

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Russian History is on Exhibit in the Displays of the Andrei Rublyov Museum in Moscow

Filed under: Christian,cultural,fine arts,history,religious,Russian — 01varvara @ 00.00


Inside the Andrei Rublyov Central Museum of Medieval Russian Culture and Arts at the Andronikov Monastery of Our Saviour in Moscow

The collection of the Andrei Rublyov Central Museum of Medieval Russian Culture and Arts reflects seven centuries of Russian history. The institution bears the name of the great 15th century Russian iconographer, St Andrei Rublyov. In the run-up to New Year, the museum marked two significant anniversaries, 650 years since the birth of the legendary iconographer and 60 years since the founding of the museum.

The Saviour-Andronikov Monastery, which houses the museum’s collection, is itself a unique architectural monument. It is Moscow’s most ancient monastery, having been built in the 14th century. St Andrei Rublyov supervised the work of painting its main cathedral, the Cathedral of Our Saviour; as for the belfry, it is the second-highest after the Belfry of Ivan the Great in the Moscow Kremlin. The monastery was the largest centre for the copying of valuable manuscripts; also, it safeguarded one of the most cherished Russian holy objects, the Icon of Our Saviour Not Made by Hands. A legend says that the image was brought from Constantinople by Metropolitan Aleksei, who founded the monastery to commemorate his miraculous rescue from a storm which caught his ship at sea. During the course of the centuries, the monastery was looted and destroyed many times by fire, and many of its treasures, icons, rare manuscripts, books, and masterpieces of church art, perished in those disasters.


Icon of St Seraphim of Sarov, an 18th and early-19th century Russian saint. This illustrated the Russian text of this article. Is this in the Andronikov collection? Could be… Russians are not pedantic Germans!

A new page in the history of the Saviour-Andronikov Monastery opened in the middle of the previous century when it was proclaimed a reserve. Its collection began to be restored; exhibits were bought by special groups or donated. The first items were examples of old book printing, a tiny prayer book, and, compared with it, an enormous 19th century Book of the Psalms weighing some 10 kilogrammes!

At present, the museum’s collection has 10,000 items, ancient books and pieces of applied arts. Yet, the museum is world-famous, primarily, for its collection of icons of various schools, starting from the earliest period of Christianity in Russia to the late Middle Ages. The pride of the collection is works by masters such as St Andrei Rublyov and Dionisy and closest disciples, who painted icons at the order of Tsar Ivan Grozny. “At that time, the so-called illustration icon appeared, some examples of which are presented in the museum’s jubilee exposition. For example, one such is The Nativity of the Most-Holy Mother of God. The icon demonstrates a turning point in the development of the art of Moscow, a transition from the enlightened refinement of the epoch of Dionisy to a dramatic period in Russian history, the one associated with the rule of Tsar Ivan Grozny”, said Gennady Popov, the museum’s director.

Before the 17th century, icons depicted only spiritual, noetic, life, but, later, landscapes and architectural elements began to appear. For instance, something looking like a tower on one of the icons reminds you of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Experts believe that the gem of the exposition is a five-storied iconostas, a work of the 17th century Moscow iconographic school. The staff of the museum is convinced that the jubilee exposition is an important stage in the restoration of Russia’s holy sites.

30 December 2008

Yelena Andrusenko

Voice of Russia World Service



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