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Thirty icons from the Andrei Rublev Museum in the Netherlands

Andrei Rublev (1360-ca.1420) was one of the nine persons and the first icon painter sanctified by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1988. He was canonised during a solemn ceremony in the Trinity-H. Sergius Monastery in Sergiev Posad, where Rublev lived and worked for several years.[i] 
 
In 1982, Irina Vasilevna Vatiginoi was commissioned to create the first icon of the saint for the occasion by the Holy Synod. Although there is no way to verify if the image she crafted looked like him, the inscription confirms that the saint depicted in the icon is Andrei Rublev. Vatiginoj’s icon was carried into the refectory church of the Trinity Monastery and placed on an analogian {ed. a slanted lectern for icons} in front of the iconostasis. Special hymns were sung to venerate the unveiling of the icon. [ii] 
 
On the biographical icon, Rublev is depicted frontally, holding his famous Holy Trinity icon. He is surrounded by scenes narrating his life. The year of his canonisation was not picked at random; in 1988 the Russian Orthodox Church celebrated its 1000th anniversary. Andrei Rublev and his Holy Trinity icon have been held in high regard since its creation around 1420, most particularly in the Middle Ages and in the beginning of the 20th century, when the icon was restored to its original stunning beauty.   
 
Rublev’s canonisation was celebrated in the Andronikov Monastery of the Saviour in Moscow where Rublev also lived and worked. In 1947, The Andrei Rublev Museum of Early Russian Culture and Art was established on the grounds of the Andronikov Monastery in his honor. It is dedicated to Russia’s religious cultural heritage and its opening on 21 September 1960 coincided with the 600th anniversary of Rublev’s birth. The museum preserves and displays an extensive collection of icons, embroideries, sculptures, manuscripts and precious books accumulated since the 1950s. A fraction of the collection, thirty icons, is currently on display in the Museum Catharijneconvent in Utrecht. 
 
Unsurprisingly, the 16th century Trinity icon demonstrates a great resemblance to Rublev's Trinity icon. After all, the icon was painted in accordance with the conventions dictated by the Stoglav Council (1551): "The painter should paint the icons to traditional examples such as Andrei Rublev".
 
There are, however, significant differences between them. In the ‘Anonymous’ icon, the house and rock in the background are more prominent and elaborately detailed. The tent of Sarah, an architectural masterpiece on which a red curtain is draped, is a copy of another 15th century Rublev's icon by the monk Paissii. The presence of the cloth is curious because the men in the philoxenia (the Hospitality of Abraham) - from which the iconography of the Trinity has been derived - were welcomed under the oak tree of Mamre, and not inside the house, as the curtain suggests. Remarkably, the tree is hardly visible on the latter icon due to damage.
 
Anotherarea of damage is around the chalice. Due to a rather imprecise restoration, two images of a chalice can be seen overlapping each other: the original and the restorer’s depiction. Moreover, two liturgical objects are placed on the table rather than one, as in Rublev’s icon. In addition to the chalice the restorer painted a small house-shaped tabernacle or monstrance. The central figure, identified as Christ because of his purple and blue garments, blesses the food. It is as if he invites the beholder to partake of the Holy Eucharist. 
 
The 16th century Trinity icon can be seen at the exhibition 'Divine Inspiration' until 9 August 2013 in the Museum Catharijneconvent in Utrecht. 
 
Epilogue
Andrei Rublev, arguably the greatest iconographer of all time, is not only revered in Russia. In the Netherlands, Kees van Veen, icon painter and founder of the journal dedicated to icons, Eikonikon (1987), paid homage to Andrei Rublev. He painted him in accordance with traditions established in the 1980s: in a brown monk’s cowl, with a large round forehead, a white-grayish beard and short, curling hair; and most importantly, holding the Holy Trinity icon in a similar vein to Vatiginoi’s image. 
 
[i] It was for this monastery that Rublev painted his famous icon of the Holy Trinity; the church celebrates Rublev’s feast day on 4 July. [ii] Hymns to St. Andrei Rublev: 
 
Troparion 
Shining with the rays of divine light, 
O venerable Andrew, 
You knew Christ the wisdom and power of God. 
By means of the image of the Holy Trinity 
You preached to all the world the Holy Trinity in unity. 
And we, with amazement and joy, cry out to you: 
As you have boldness before the Most Holy Trinity 
Pray that the Uncreated Light 
May illumine our souls!
 
Kontakion 
Like a trumpet, you clearly sounded the sweetness of divine hymns, 
And were revealed as a brilliant beacon shining on the world with the light of the Trinity. 
Therefore, we all cry to you, venerable Andrew: 
"Unceasingly pray for us all." 
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