The Russian Icon
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From Its Origins to the Sixteenth Century
Author: Viktor Nikitich Lazarev; Colette Joly Dees, Translator; English Text Edited by Nancy McDarby
Publisher: Liturgical Press, 1992
Size: 289 x 235 mm (11.375 x 9.25 in.) 404 pages, Hardcover with dust jacket
Russian icons are a "rediscovery" of the twentieth century. It was only after they had been cleaned of dark varnishes and repainting that their intrinsic value appeared in its true light, permitting people to study them scientifically and once again experience their true spiritual power and depth. People were struck by the breathtaking beauty of this art whose charms reside in pure and spontaneous feeling, harmonious composition, and extraordinary eloquent figures.
In this volume 224 pages of stunning full-color prints of Russian icons combine with 140 pages of descriptive text to create a brilliant and memorable work on Russian iconography and a valuable exploration of the Konic contents of Russia's great museums.
Due to the restrictive environment in which he wrote the original manuscript in the 1970s, Viktor Lazarev, the acknowledged master, teacher, and critic of Russian fine art, communicated his insights in largely scientific terms. Still, by drawing upon his exceptional capabilities as both writer and scientist, Lazarev successfully conveyed, in terms acceptable to communist sensibilities, a moving sense of an art form that is at once nationalistic and profoundly spiritual. Updated in 1995 by a collaborating editor, and paired with unprecedented photography only now possible in a post-confederation world, this volume provides a rich history of the Russian icon from its origins in the eleventh century to its golden age in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and ending with its rapid decline in the sixteenth century.
Using broad scholarly material, Lazarev describes the dawn of national panel painting; technique and aesthetics of Russian icons; main schools of icon painting; and discusses individual artists and their best works. One chapter is dedicated to the history of the discovery of Russian icons and to the major scholars who dealt with Russian iconography. The text also incorporates Lazarev's observation of the techniques used in restoring the art, which grew out of Eastern icon influence and Slavic primitive styles.
An appendix providing detailed descriptions of each color plate allows both the scholar and non-specialist reader to gain maximum understanding of Lazarev's main text. The general bibliography represents the most complete source of all the scientific literature on Russian iconography of the eleventh to the fifteenth centuries and, as a complement to Lazarev's study, is useful to all who are interested in the history of Russian icons.
Chapters include "The Discovery of Early Russian Icons and their Study," "General Observations on Russian Iconography," "Icons of the Eleventh to Thirteenth Centuries," "The Novgorod School and the 'Northern Manners,'" "The Pskov School," "The Moscow School," and "The Artistic Centers in the Principalities of Central Russia."
Viktor Nikitich Lazarev was a prominent icon painting scholar and authority on Medieval Russian iconography. Among his numerous studies published, the following are those written in his last years: Icon Painting of Novgorod, Icon Painting School of Moscow, Russian Medieval Icon Painting, and Antique Russian Mosaics and Frescoes.
"This is a beautiful and extraordinarily informative book... The photographs alone make this book worthy of purchase by anyone who loves icons."--Theology Today
"This volume, a grand presentation of Russian religious painting from the mid-eleventh to the sixteenth century, serves as a magnificent memorial to Lazarev's accomplishments. Those unfamiliar with the Russian icon might well find this work the finest possible introduction to this field... Above all, this volume should be treasured as a truly beautiful survey of a form of Russian national enlightenment still poorly appreciated in Western countries."--The Catholic Historical Review
"The [images] alone are worth the price of the book, but Lazarev's knowledge and style make this a rare combination of fine scholarship and enjoyable reading."--America
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