Ancient Russian art, Russia

Old Russian art is an art that developed in the 9th-13th centuries on the territory of the Old Russian state and on the territories of ancient Russian state formations. During this period, the St. Sophia Cathedral (Kyiv) and St. Sophia Cathedral (Novgorod) were created. In a broader sense, Old Russian art refers to medieval Russian art from the 9th to the 17th centuries. Old Russian art absorbed the traditions of several cultures, including East Slavic, Byzantine and Balkan.



The history of ancient Russian art is divided into two major stages: the art of Kievan Rus (IX - the first third of the XII century) and art during the formation of the Muscovite state (the first quarter of the XVI-XVII centuries). In the artistic culture of Kievan Rus, periods are distinguished: pre-Christian, associated with the formation of the power of the Rurikids (9th - late 10th century); entry into the sphere of Byzantine Christian culture - from the Baptism of Rus' (988) to the end of the reign of Prince Vladimir Monomakh (1125); the development of art in the principalities of the period of feudal fragmentation, interrupted by the invasion of Batu in 1237 (12th - early 13th century).


Pre-Christian period (IX - late X century)

From this period, mainly works of decorative and applied art have survived, indicating a high level of development of artistic crafts, for example, turya horns with silver inlays in animal style from the Black Grave in Chernihiv, 10th century. Under the influence of paganism, the ancient Slavs embodied mythological images of natural elements in their work. These mythological images - images of the sun, horse, bird, flower, etc., are preserved in folk art to this day. One of the types of embodiment of mythological images was the temples (sanctuaries), where they erected idols (stone or wooden statues) of revered gods: Perun, Khors, Stribog, Simargl, Mokosh, etc. The temples could have an oval shape (Kiev, c. 980) or multi-petal, associated with the symbolism of the sun (Peryn, near Novgorod).


Christian period (XI century - XII century)

The baptism of Rus' strengthened the ties of Rus' with the countries of the Christian world, both in political and cultural aspects. Byzantium, as a state with a huge cultural "baggage", had a strong influence on many aspects of Russian art and enriched it with new images and techniques. Byzantine masters who arrived in Rus' contributed to the rapid development of architecture (including temple architecture), icon painting, and book miniatures. Wooden Christian churches were built already in 989; The first large stone temple in Kyiv was the court church of the Tithes (990-996), already erected by architects from Byzantium (not preserved).

An outstanding architectural monument of this period is the Cathedral of St. Sophia (God's Wisdom) in Kiev, which was founded in 1037 by Prince Yaroslav the Wise - a huge five-nave cross-domed church with two stair towers, surrounded on three sides by two-story galleries and crowned with 13 domes. The cathedral emphasized the successive connection with the center of the Orthodox world - the church of St. Sophia of Constantinople. Plinth was used as a building material, often used in Byzantine buildings. Mosaics and frescoes decorating the temple (1040s) were made by Byzantine masters and their Russian students. The solemn and majestic mosaic image of Our Lady Oranta (Praying) in the central apse received the name "Indestructible Wall" in Rus'.

At the beginning of the 12th century, the strict solemnity of the picturesque decoration of St. Sophia of Kiev was replaced by more refined and contemplative images (mosaics and frescoes of the St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery in Kiev, c. 1113). During the reign of Vladimir Monomakh, the icon of Our Lady of Vladimir was brought to Rus', which is considered an outstanding monument of Byzantine icon painting, which became a model of icon painting for Russian masters.

Temples built at the turn of the 11th-12th centuries in Kyiv, Chernigov, Pereyaslavl and other cities are already smaller in size and their architectural forms are smoother, and the interior space is more cohesive and visible. The largest center of artistic life of that time was Novgorod, where in the 12th century. democratic government (the power of the people's council) was formed. Novgorod culture was distinguished by simplicity, strict laconism of forms, which was also reflected in architecture: the Cathedral of St. Sophia, 1045-50; Nikolsky Cathedral at Yaroslav's Court, 1113; St. George's Cathedral of the Yuriev Monastery, 1119, full-blooded images, contrasting colors in monumental painting and icon painting.