Andrei Rublev: Painting the Image of God

October 17th marks 585 years to the day after the death of Russia’s most revered painter of Orthodox icons.
October 17th marks 585 years to the day after the death of Russia's most revered painter of Orthodox icons. Andrei Rublev was born at the end of the 1360s in the small town of Radonezh, not far from the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius. In all probability, he was a novice at this monastery in his youth, later being ordained as a monk. The first chronicled mention of Andrei Rublev: the master painted the Moscow Kremlin's Cathedral of the Annunciation (1405), along with Theophanes the Greek. / The Annunciation, 1405
Andrei Rublev started working on the iconostasis in the Moscow Kremlin's Cathedral of the Annunciation. Author's inscriptions on ancient Russian icons are a very rare phenomenon. The extant historical evidence on the life and work of Andrei Rublev is extremely contradictory; for instance, the authorship of "The Transfiguration" has yet to be established. The compilers of the UNESCO World Heritage List define it as a work from the "School of Rublev". / The Transfiguration, 1425
Among Rublev's early works is "The Birth of Christ", also from the Cathedral of the Annunciation in Moscow. A fan of vibrant color in an enlightened ambiance, the creator of "The Birth of Christ" doesn't view forms as flat spots and silhouettes, but rather, as light presence in a shall, but somehow vast space. Everything shown in it is vested with significance, but also great freedom, both spatial and spiritual. / The Birth of Christ, 1405
Researchers also tie the Khitrovo Gospels, the frescos of the Cathedral of the Assumption on Gorodok in Zvenigorod (around 1400), and the Zvenigorod Deesis icons (early 15th century) to Rublev. The so-called Zvenigorod Deesis is one of the most beautiful assemblies of icons from ancient Russian painting. The Deesis consists of three half-length icons of the Savior, The Archangel Michael, and the Apostle Paul. / The Apostle Paul, 1410
The Zvenigorod Deesis painting stands out for its unique cleanliness of color, the nobility of tonal transitions, and the luminosity of colors. Light radiates from the golden backgrounds and gentle swimming of the bright faces, the clean shades of ochre, and the blue, pink, and green tones of the clothes. In the image of the Archangel Michael, Rublev glorified the poet's quiet, lyrical contemplation. / The Archangel Michael,1408
Rublev's Savior is a work that had an enormous influence on the artist's contemporaries, as well as on all future generations of Russians. He's alive, open, majestic, and, at the same time, a certain Slavic softness is felt in him; his facial features are slight. The range of colors is complete with golden and other different shades of ochre on the face, and a slightly dark, mild   sky blue. The facial expression combined with the color range creates the impression of wise serenity. / The Savior, 1410
It can be asserted with great certainty that in 1408 Andrei Rublev was sent to paint the Dominion Cathedral in Vladimir. The Vladimir Dormition Cathedral was especially revered in Ancient Rus and the Grand Princes of Moscow never ceased caring for its upkeep. The "Ascension" icon from the Holiday Deesis of the Vladimir Dormition Cathedral's iconostasis possesses a special rhythmic composition like none of the other multi-figured holiday icons. / Ascension, 1408
In Rublev's deesis at the Dormition Cathedral, there is an image of the young Virgin Mary dressed in dark colors that is unusually minimalist, yet conquers with its strict, noble beauty. Byzantine artists painted the Virgin Mary differently, expressing a tragic beginning in her image. This Virgin is not as young as Rublev's and is drawn in heavy, deaf tones. Russian artists strive to stir bright, cheerful feelings in the viewer. / The Virgin Mary, 1408
A large part of the frescos at the Vladimir Dormition Cathedral, painting in 1408, are composed of fragments of Judgment Day; the preserved frescos represent a fragment of the grandiose Judgment Day composition that occupies the Western wall of the cathedral. The emotional mood of the scene in Judgment Day is unusual in that there is no sense of horror in the face of terrible punishment, but rather the idea of forgiveness and an enlightened mood triumphs. / Judgment Day, 1408
Although Rublev's name is managed in the chronicles in relation to the construction of various churches, he became known as an artist only in the early 20 century after the 1904 restoration of "The Trinity". In Rublev's icon, attention is centered on three angles and their silent conversation. God the Father blesses God the Sun at his death on the cross in the name of love for all people. The Holy Spirit (the right angel) is present as a consoler, confirming the profound meaning of sacrificial, forgiving love. / The Trinity, 1410
A humble monk, who dedicated his whole life to creating frescos and icons, he was respected and widely-known. However, he was forgotten by his descendants and many of his works were lost. Even at the beginning of the 20th century, some experts couldn't reliably name even one of his works. In the last years of Andrei Rublev's life, he was a monk at the Andronikov Monastery in Moscow. Rublev died of the black plague on October 17, 1428 . He listed by the Russian Orthodox Church as a saint. / Deposition of Jesus Christ, 1425

All rights reserved by Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

We've got more than 1,5 million followers on Facebook. Join them!

This website uses cookies. Click here to find out more.

Accept cookies