Museum Of Russian Icons Extends 1000 Years of Veneration Exhibition

The Museum Of Russian Icons has extended it’s 1000 Years of Veneration Exhibition through October 1.

Exhibited together for the first time, these precious and beautiful works span 1000 years of Russian history. This exhibition offers a rare glimpse into how Orthodox tradition inspired the development of Russian culture from the first Tsars onward.

Some icons in this exhibit are considered of such historical importance they required special permission to leave Russia. Though the Museum of Russian Icons—as a recognized nonprofit museum in the United States and Russia—is permitted to purchase icons in Russia for the collection, the Museum is nonetheless required by Russian artistic heritage laws to acquire stringently reinforced export licenses to remove these “national treasures.”

One of the more significant icons in the exhibition, Not Made By Hands, circa 1550, is from the Novgorod-Pskov region, northwest of Moscow. This region is famous for its tradition of fine icon painting, with a characteristic use of bright, lively colors—particularly the reds—and the distinctively complex, yet clear compositions. This large-scale icon was the centerpiece of an enormous iconostasis or wall of brightly colored icons separating the sanctuary from the nave of an Eastern Orthodox church. Typically, Not Made By Hands was placed at the highest point of this large-scale display. The Not Made By Hands in the Museum of Russian Icons collection is possibly the finest, and certainly the largest, Byzantine-style sacred painting in the USA.

The broad range of dates and regional schools of the remaining icons in this exhibition is of particular importance and includes examples of various styles: from the sophisticated Moscow Armory School at the Kremlin, to regional styles of “Old Believers” (conservative monks who did not accepted Peter the Great’s Westernization of Russian culture including reforms to Orthodox Christianity). Some smaller icons have jewel encrusted and sterling silver and gold leaf oklads (covers that protect the icons from wear and tear or as an expression of devotion to a particular icon). The silver oklads have marks that show where and when they were made and also by whom. Many of the oklads on display are by major St Petersburg and Moscow silversmiths.

Image: Mid-16th century Novgorod-Pskov Region Tempera and gold on gesso and wood

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