The Most Famous Russian Iconographer: Andrey Rublev
Andrey Rublev is one of the only noted Russian Iconographers with acclaimed work both from the Byzantine traditional style and the newer Russian style with strong western influences.
It is believed that Rublev began the move away from the Byzantine style as early as the 15th century.
In 1988 Andrey Rublev was canonized a Saint by the Russian Orthodox Church.
Any painting comes to life with the gentle strokes of the artist's hand. Just as Picasso was to Cubism, Andrey Rublev was to Russian Iconography. Sadly, very little personal information is known about this great artist. In the 20th century when Communism swept through Russia, Lenin ordered the destruction of all Religious articles. The world owes a debt to all the individuals that were able to secretly preserve the traditions of the Russian Orthodox Church and the sacred ancient icons
of that time.
Though the date isn't definitive, it is believed that the birth of Andrey Rublev occurred during the Monastic Revival period around the year of 1360. Historically he has been associated as being a monk at the Trinity
-St. Sergius Monastery and a follower of St. Sergius. It is strongly believed that Andrei Rublev was a pupil of Theophanes the Greek, who was a renowned Byzantine Master in icon
painting. The early works of the artist, Rublev, are revered to be exquisite examples of Byzantine mastery. Many of the decorations of the Annunciation
Cathedral did not survive over time, but the Iconostasis retains seven icons
by Rublev. These are noted to prove his skills at the Byzantine tradition of icon painting.
The Assumption Cathedral in Vladmir, house the only preserved murals that begin to show his break with the old traditions of Byzantine style. With this change, Rublev began being noted for his use of color, and the humanity that he portrayed in the faces of the figures depicted. This was the start of the western art influence upon Russian Iconography. In the "Evolution of Style in Muscovite Icons: Icons of the Birth of Mary", Daniel Waugh writes that "by the Muscovite Period iconographic themes became more complex than they had been, and stylistically there are "innovations" that raise questions as to whether the Byzantine cannons about religious painting were being strictly observed." The new westernized style focused on full decorative detail, and the two- dimensional look started being replaced with the three-dimensional roundness of realism.
Due to the fact that so many icons
had to be quickly hidden for preservation it has taken Art Historians years to date and authenticate all the icons that have slowly surfaced after the fall of Communism. Rublev has been accredited for the following works of art: Christ in Majesty (1410 - 1415),
The Holy Trinity
(1410), The Transfiguration (1405), The Archangel Michael, The Savior, and The Apostle Paul (all three; 1410 - 1440), and The Old Testament
Trinity (1410) His most acclaimed masterpiece is that of The Old Testament Trinity, which is revered for its "lyrical and rhythmic quality". This icon
is thought to be the best example of Russian Iconography throughout history. Rublev's second most endeared icon would be that of The Savior. Art Historians agree that The Savior marked the beginning of the Golden Age for Russian Iconography.
Balthus,a French Modern Artist, stated; "To paint and to pray are the same thing." One would have to believe that for Andrei Rublev this would be a belief held dear. The only precise date documented in his entire life is that of January 29th, 1430. On this date he died at the Andronikov Monastery located in Moscow. For all the criticism he endured during his life, vindication was granted in 1551 at the Stoglavi Sobor where Rublev's icon
style was announced as a model for church icon painting. In 1988 Andrei Rublev was canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church and to this day the Church celebrates his feast day on January 29th and July 4th. In 1959, the Andrei Rublev Museum opened at the Andronikov Monastery where hundreds of both the faithful and art enthusiasts can quietly give homage to an artist that little personally is know about, except the depth and devotion to his faith.
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