or perhaps the Church, and the mountain to the right spiritual strength. The 'otherworldly' geometry of the composition - the use of reverse perspective in the table and the intersecting triangle, the octagon and, most important, the circle encompassing the angels and chalice - create an aesthetic balance and harmony, as well as adding symbolic dimensions. The icon embodies the idea of sacrifice, the sacrifice of the calf (even where no calf is represented, a calf s head may be seen in the chalice) prefiguring the sacrifice of Christ the Lamb of God for mankind.59
A less complex but equally haunting image attributed to Rublev is the monumental Saviour thought to come from the Deesis of the cathedral of the Dormition 'na Gorodke' inZvenigorod and tentatively dated to the first decade ofthe fifteenth century.60 Christ's face is both awe-inspiring and compassionate, with 'an affinity with the Russian ideal ofbeauty'.61 The image is made poignant by the damage to the panel and the story of how in 1918 the restorer G. O. Chirikov discovered it in a shed under a pile of firewood with two similarly sized images of St Paul and the Archangel Michael, salvaged from what is presumed to be a seven- or a nine-figure Deesis.62 The three are now displayed in the Tretyakov Gallery.
Modern eulogies to Rublev that emphasise his prominence as an artist and craftsman of world stature or his credentials as a 'humanist' distort the medieval Russian view of an icon-painter, which is summed up in words attributed to Abbot Iosif of Volokolamsk (1439-1515), one of Rublev's earliest 'biographers'.
These marvellous, famous iconographers, Daniil, Andrei, his disciple, and many others who were like them, had such virtuous zeal for fasting and the monastic life that they were able to receive divine grace. They constantly raised their mind and thought to the divine immaterial light and their bodily eye toward the images of Christ, of his All-pure Mother and of all the saints painted with material colours.63
In Rublev's work spirituality (beauty of spirit) and aesthetics (beauty of form) were inextricably linked.
59 See A. V Voloshinov, Troitsa Andreia Rubleva: geometriia i filosofiia (Saratov: Nash Dom, 1997), 25, 27, 28-9, 32.
60 Plugin, Master Sviatoi Troitsy, 509.
61 Kozlova, Masterpieces ofthe Tretyakov Gallery, 20.
62 E. Konchin, 'Rublev: novye otkrytiia i starye legendy', Znanie-sila 10 (1974), 55-6.
63 Iosif of Volokolamsk, Answer to the curious and brief study of the Holy Fathers who lived in the monasteries of the Russian lands', quoted in Uspenskii, Theology, 11, 261. See above, pp. 269-71.
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