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The Icon Debate

Religious Images in Russia in the 15th and 16th Centuries


Aleksandra Sulikowska

The book explores the subject of Russian icons and their changes as well as the discussion on art that unfolded in Russia in the 15th and 16th centuries. Taking the representation of the Old Testament Trinity, attributed to Andrei Rublev, as its point of departure, it discusses and analyses the key issues of the iconography of the Holy Trinity and the process of the emergence and the dissemination of the imagery of God the Father and the New Testament Trinity in Russia. These issues are framed in the context of the debate that took place at the time within the Muscovite Orthodoxy, which concerned heresy, the relations with other denominations, the identity of the Russian Orthodox Church and the place of the icons in the existing canon.


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Fig. I. The Old Testament Trinity, Andrei Rublev and his worhshop, 1422–1427 (?), from the Cathedral of Holy Trinity in Holy Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, Moscow, Tretyakov Gallery. 362 Fig. II. Basil the Great in the time of Divine Liturgy. Liturgical textile, early 15th c., the Cathedral of the Dormition in Moscow’s Kremlin. 363 Fig. III. The Annunciation of Ustyug, Novgorod, end of 12th c., from Yuriev Monastery of in Novgorod from 1567 in the Cathedral of the Dormition in Moscow’s Kremlin, Moscow, Tretyakov Gallery. 364 Fig. IV. Moscow Council of 1490. Miniature from the Shumilov volume of the manuscript of the Litsevoy Svod, middle of 16th c., Saint Petersburg, National Library of Russia. 365 Fig. V. The Old Testament Trinity, the gate of the Cathedral of the Nativity in Suzdal, 13th c. 366 Fig. VI. The Old Testament Trinity (the Hospitality of Abraham) and Paternitas, Ruthenia, 15th c., National Museum in Kraków. 367 Fig. VII. The Old Testament Trinity (the Hospitality of Abraham), Pskov, early 16th c., Moscow, Tretyakov Gallery. 368 Fig. VIII. The Four-part icon: the Raising of Lazarus, the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, the Old Testament Trinity (the Hospitality of Abraham), John the Theologian and Prokhor on Patmos, Novgorod, 1st half of 15th c., from the church of St. George in Novgorod, Saint Petersburg, State Russian Museum. 369 Fig. IX. The Zyrian Old Testament Trinity (the Hospitality of Abraham), Stephen of Perm, 14th c., Vologda State Museum-Preserve of History, Architecture and Decorative Arts....

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