Sunday, February 13, 2011


The Saviour

"In you rejoices"

Christ before Pontius Pilates

A Russian icon of the iconographer Rublyov, holding one of his images

Saviour in Glory

Christ the Redeemer

Nativity of Jesus


The Trinity

Andrey Rublyov is the pride and glory of Russian culture. Many consider Rublyov the greatest Russian icon painter. Although his works found recognition during his lifetime, and they were held as iconographic standards in the 16th century by the Russian Orthodox Church, very little is known about Rublyov's life. He was born between 1360 and 1370 and died in 1430. He became monk probably as an adult at the Savior Andronikov Monastery in Moscow, where he was also buried after his death. The first mention of Rublyov is in 1405 when he decorated icons and frescos for the Cathedral of the Annunciation of the Moscow Kremlin in company with Theophanes the Greek and Prokhor of Gorodets. Theophanes was an important Byzantine master who moved to Russia, and is considered to have trained Rublyov. Chronicles tell us that in 1408 he painted (together with Daniil Cherni) the Assumption Cathedral in Vladimir and in 1425–1427 the Cathedral of St. Trinity in the Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra. After Daniil's death Andrey came to Moscow's Andronikov Monastery where he painted his last work, the frescoes of the Savior Cathedral.
He was one of the one of the three most significant persons of medieval Russia; the other two being Sergius of Radonezh (1321-1391) and Dmitri Donskoy (1350-1389). If the names of Sergius Radonezh and Dmitry Donskoy symbolize the spiritual and military renaissance of Old Russia and the first steps towards liberation from Mongol and Tartar yoke, the name of Rublyov is connected not only with the flowering of Russian art but also with the revival on Russian ground of the Byzantine art that had been ruined in the Osmanli fire.
Already in Rublyov’s time, his icons were worth their weight in gold: they were hunted by collectors, who did not stop far from violence and fraud. Rublyov’s authority was so high that, when the cannons of painting the Trinity were considered at the Stoglavy Sobor in 1551 in Moscow, the verdict was unequivocal: “To paint from ancient samples like Greek artists painted and like Andrey Rublyov painted…”
The icon Trinity from the Trinity Cathedral in the Trinity–St. Sergius Monastery, is the masterpiece of the great master. Still, the exact date of creation of the icon is unknown – it could be either 1411 or 1425–1427. The Trinity, ca. 1410, currently in the Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, is based upon an earlier icon known as the "Hospitality of Abraham". Rublyov removed the figures of Abraham and Sarah from the scene, and through a subtle use of composition and symbolism changed the subject to focus on the Mystery of the Trinity.
There are two traditions combined in Rublyov's art: the highest asceticism and the classic harmony of Byzantine mannerism. The characters of his paintings are always peaceful and calm. The icon is meant to symbolically represent spiritual reality, and the most important quality for an icon is its ability to transmit a feeling of ecstasy and heavenliness. Thus, an icon of a saint should be understood as that saint's spiritual portrait. Rublyov is one of few craftsmen that attained these aesthetic goals.
“What marvels, startles, and almost scorches us in Rublyov’s work is not at all the subject or the numeral ‘three’, or the cup on the Communion table…but the fact that it showed us truly the Revelation beheld by him. Among the restless circumstances of the time, among the disorders, the local wars, the general savagery and the Tartar interventions, among this lack of peace that had deprived Rus, there opened to the eye of the soul this infinite, imperturbable, indestructible peace, the “lofty peace” of the celestial world… And this inexplicable world.. this incomparable sky-blue, not the earthly sky-blue, but the true heavenly azure, this unspeakable dream of Lermontov, who longed for it, this ineffable grace of the mutual bows, this peaceful unwordliness, this infinite submissiveness to each other – we consider the artistic contents of the Trinity.” (P. Florensky, “The Trinity – St.Sergius Monastery and Russia”)
If the name of Rublyov personifies the art of Old Russia, Trinity symbolizes the highest peak of that culture. Rublyov and his Trinity became synonyms for the Russian people, and for a foreigner the whole history of Russian art is not frequently overshadowed by this glaring peak.
Alexander V. Voloshinov, The Old Testament Trinity of Andrey Rublyov: Geometry and Philosophy.
Andrey’s work has influenced many different artists including Dionisy. He was canonized a saint in 1988 by the Russian Orthodox Church. The church celebrates his feast day on January 29[2] and July 4. Since 1959 the Andrei Rublyov Museum has been open at the Andronnikov Monastery, displaying the art of his works and his epoch. In 1966, Andrei Tarkovsky made his celebrated film, Andrey Rublyov loosely based on the artist's life, which shows him as "a world-historic figure" and "Christianity as an axiom of Russia's historical identity” during a turbulent period in the history of Russia.
Alexander V. Voloshinov, The Old Testament Trinity of Andrey Rublyov: Geometry and Philosophy

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