are thus represented in terms of cosmic struggle against the forces of evil, with the Muscovite military elite 'cast in the role ofGod's own warriors'. The composition has precedents in the Balkans.78 A smaller version exists, dating from the third quarter of the sixteenth century, in which historical and biblical figures are identified by inscriptions.79 To dismiss such icons as 'political' is misleading, for court life itself was construed on sacred models and parallels. In icons of saints, too, emphasis switched from the solitary transfigured image of the saint as a guide to contemplative prayer to a narrative of his deeds arranged around the edges of the panel, as an inspiration to others on how to live.
Many of the new 'theological' icons were packed with small details, which some historians have blamed on the influence of decorative 'oriental arabesques'8° from Persia and Turkey, with a consequent loss of spirituality, and a 'disintegration of the Byzantine vision of liturgical art'.8: Certainly, in the sixteenth century, and even more in the seventeenth, Russia's growing contacts with the outside world through diplomacy and trade, to and from both east and west, were bound to leave traces in art. There was also an upsurge in demand for icons for private prayer, usually of modest dimensions, but richly detailed to satisfy close scrutiny. The proliferation of miracle cults in the sixteenth century prompted the production of new iconographic subjects featuring miracles, as well as copies of older wonder-working icons.82 Many examples of menaion or monthly calendar icons were made, comprising series of panels each containing rows of miniaturised images of saints and feasts for a single month of the church calendar.83 Iconographic conventions were applied to images for liturgical purposes created in other media, for example in precious metals on chalices, and processional and reliquary crosses. Fabric palls or shrouds were made for the tombs of saints, bearing their full-length portraits, created with patchwork, embroidered inscriptions and embroidery of gold and silver threads and pearls. The palls for St Kirill of Beloozero in the Russian Museum are fine examples. Some of the best were made in the workshops of the tsaritsy, for example the pall of Metropolitan Filipp (i59os).84
78 See D. Rowland, 'Biblical military imagery in the political culture of early modern Russia. The Blessed Host of the Heavenly Tsar', in Medieval Russian culture, ed. M. S. Flier and D. Rowland (Berkeley: University of California Press, i994), ii, i97.
79 See Art of Holy Russia, i8o-i, plate 33.
80 G. H. Hamilton, The art and architecture ofRussia (London: Thames and Hudson, i983), i59.
81 Grierson, Gates of mystery, 4o.
82 On cults, see P. Bushkovitch, Religion and society in Russia: the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (Oxford: Oxford University Press, i992).
83 For examples, Grierson, Gates of mystery, 9i-3: Menaion for December, Moscow, i569.
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