So rich in all the arts, Russia produced a treasure of great painting, mostly in the 2nd half of the 19th century, but also, significantly, since the end of Communism. On Sunday mornings we are pleased to bring you the excellent Great Russian Christian Art series from Russian Faith, a site about the extraordinary Christian renaissance in Russia, manifested through the rebirth of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Russian Faith has selected works with Christian themes, but all of these artists created magnificent secular works too, and they are popular and well-known to the Russian public. These paintings give great insight into Russian history, culture, religion and psychology and are huge fun to view. Enjoy.
From Russian Faith:
As we work our way through an enormous cache of fascinating Russian Christian paintings, we can't help but fall in love with some of them.
As we learned about Russia's traditional faith, Russian Orthodox Christianity, we discovered an enormous, mostly forgotten treasure of striking Christian paintings, mostly unknown in the West, starting from approximately the early 1800s, and continuing to this day.
So far we have cataloged over 150 images, and are discovering more all the time. We will gradually be getting them all online.
The painting 'Prayer' was completed in 2001. Canvas, oil.
Link to high resolution image.
The central image of the picture is an old man. He went out into the street early in the autumn morning and decided to sit down and rest, leaning on a large stone wall. We do not know what this man thinks about, what desires he has, whether there are dreams. Not only by his gray hair, but also by his eyes one can see that he lived a long life full of difficulties and sadness. His eyes completely wilted. White grown beard freely lying on the chest of an old man.
The clergyman wears traditional light-colored clothing. It seems as if the clothes and beard are completely merged, form one whole. Even the pale face strick does not stand out against this background. Yellowed foliage makes you think about the withering of life. The tree sheds its foliage as quickly as the years of the elder flow. The old man is warming this cold autumn day with a warm caftan draped over one shoulder.
Perhaps soon the old man will not. Has he managed to do in this life all that he dreamed of? It is unlikely that thoughts of a man are occupied with such earthly, low questions. He clearly thinks of the highest, of meeting with God, or of human sins, which sometimes overpower each of us. He prays for all of us.
In front of the old man is a small altar with an icon. Nearby is a stone object that looks more like a coffin. The figure of the crucified Jesus Christ is carved on the stone surface.
Pavel Ryzhenko (1970-2014) was a peculiar artist, especially for our times. He was staunchly realist—he believed that realism was the only ‘real’ art and scoffed at modernism as the result of a morally deteriorating world—yet he was also an unabashed Christian and a deep idealist.
More about the Great Russian Christian Art series:
Russia has a wonderfully rich heritage of Christian and Bible-themed painting which reached its zenith in the second half of the 19th century, as part of the realist school. Many of the canvases are enormous, filling an entire wall of a large public hall. Some of them took decades to complete. They are a striking and beautiful testimony to how deeply ingrained Christianity is in Russian history, culture, philosophy, thought, indeed, in her very soul. They are a delight to behold.
As Russia emerges as a leader in the return to traditionalism, this style of painting is again in vogue, and there are also several contemporary Christian painters creating extraordinary canvases. Indeed, Moscow has an excellent art academy dedicated to this style, a topic we covered in the profile of Ilya Glazunov, a leading, recently deceased painter in this genre. See: A Conservative Russian Lion With Real Mass Influence – The Painter Ilya Glazunov
Many of these paintings and artists are hardly known in the West, dismissed by the secular, atheist, globalist modern 'art' vogue. We are delighted to bring you this series, which consists of several dozens of works. You can see all of the works in this series by clicking here.
We think you’ll enjoy them as much as we do.