Zhidenko Nadezhda; Timofeeva Rimma

European engravings of “spiritual” content in Russia

Zhidenko Nadezhda, Timofeeva Rimma (2019) "European engravings of “spiritual” content in Russia ", Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia V : Voprosi istorii i teorii hristianskogo iskusstva, 2019, vol. 35, pp. 61-73 (in Russian).

DOI of the paper: 10.15382/sturV201935.61-73


This article studies the presence of West-European engraved sheets with Biblical themes in the territory of Russia of the 17th — 19th centuries. The infl uence of West-European engravings already manifested itself as early as the 16th century and increased considerably in the 17th century. Books and engravings from Europe clearly influenced the masters from both the capital and provinces. The engraving, which is a cheaper and more aff ordable type of visual art, begins to be used to decorate living rooms, as images for prayer, to remind of the events of the Scripture. Despite the generally negative attitude of the church, the European engravings continued to spread in Russia and by the 18th century occupied a stable place in the household of various social groups. Collections of engravings began to be gathered; the sheets were used as “examples”, i.e. study material; were used as relayers of unaccessible painted originals. In the 19th century, the demand became even greater. Alongside original European engravings of “spiritual” content, cheap engravings and lithographies came to be widespread, these were only remotely similar to the primary sources. Illustrated edition based on the cycles of European engravings with Biblical themes were printed. The article pays special attention to the factors that supported or prevented the spread and use of West-European engravings in the teritory of Russia during the historical period in question.


Western European engraving, printed graphics, biblical plots, engraving, collecting, “spiritual” engraving


  1. Adariukov V. (1926/1984) V mire knig i graviur: Vospominaniia [In the World of Books and Engravings]. Moscow (in Russian).
  2. Alekhina L., Gamlitskii A. (eds.) “Bibleiskii teatr Martina Engel'brekhta. Siuzhety Sviashchennoi Istorii v zapadnoevropeiskoi knizhnoi graviure” [The Biblical Theater of Martin Engelbrecht. Scenes from Sacred History in Western European Book Engraving]. Moscow, 2017 (in Russian).
  3. Anisimov V. (ed.) (1923) Graficheskie iskusstva i reproduktsiia [Graphic Arts and Reproduction]. Moscow; Petrograd (in Russian).
  4. Belobrova O. (2005) “Ob istochnikakh miniatiur k sochineniiam Nikolaia Spafariia” [The Sources of Miniatures to Texts by Nikolai Spathari], in Ocherki russkoi khudozhestvennoi kul'tury XVI–XX vekov [Essays on Russian Visual Arts of the 16th — 20th Centuries]. Moscow, pp. 190–199 (in Russian).
  5. Belobrova O. (1993) “Virshi Mardariia Khonykova k graviuram Biblii Piskatora” [Mardariy Khonykov’s Rhymes for Piscator’s Engravings of Bible]. Trudy Otdela drevnerusskoi literatury, 46. St. Petersburg, pp. 334–436 (in Russian).
  6. Belovinskii L. (2003) Entsiklopedicheskii slovar' rossiiskoi zhizni i istorii [Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Russian Life and History]. Moscow (in Russian).
  7. Buseva-Davydova I. (1993) “Novye ikonografi cheskie istochniki russkoi zhivopisi XVII v.” [New Iconographic Sources of Russian Painting of the 17th Century], in Russkoe iskusstvo pozdnego srednevekov'ia. Obraz i smysl [Russian Art of the Later Middle Ages. Image and Meaning]. Moscow, pp. 190–206 (in Russian).
  8. Chaianov A. (1926) Staraia zapadnaia graviura [Antique Western Engraving]. Moscow (in Russian).
  9. Chernaia L. (2013) Povsednevnaia zhizn' moskovskikh gosudarei v XVII veke [Everyday Life of Moscow Monarchs in the 17th Century]. Moscow (in Russian).
  10. Chilingirov A. (1975) “Vliianie Diurera i sovremennoi emu nemetskoi grafi ki na ikonografi iu postvizantiiskogo iskusstva” [Infl uence of Duerer and his Contemporary German Engravings on Iconography of Post-Byzantine Art], in Drevnerusskoe iskusstvo. Zarubezhnye sviazi [Art of Ancient Russia. Foreign Links], vol. 9. Moscow, pp. 325–342 (in Russian).
  11. Gamlitskii A. (1997) “Litsevye «Strasti» Leontiia Bunina. K voprosu o zapadnoevropeiskikh ikonografi cheskikh istochnikakh russkogo iskusstva kontsa XVII‒XVIII veka” [“Passions” by Leonid Bunin. On West-European Iconographic Sources of Russian Art of the Late 17th — 18th Centuries], in Filevskie chteniia. Tezisy piatoi nauchnoi konferentsii [Filevskie Lectures. Abstracts of the Fifth Scientifi c Conference], pp. 21–23 (in Russian).
  12. Iazykova I. (2012) So-tvorenie obraza. Bogoslovie ikony [Co-Creation of the Image. The Theology of Icon]. Moscow (in Russian).
  13. Il'ina T. (2012) Natsional'noe svoeobrazie russkogo iskusstva XVIII veka i ego mesto sredi evropeiskikh shkol [Nation-Specifi c Features of Russian Art of the 18th Century and its Place among European Schools]. St. Petersburg (in Russian).
  14. Kristeller P. (1939) Istoriia evropeiskoi graviury XV‒XVIII veka [History of European Engraving of the 15th — 18th Centuries]. [Moscow] (Russian translation).
  15. Malkov Iu. (2010) “K istorii ikonopochitaniia na Rusi v pervoi polovine XVII veka (maloizvestnyi ikonofi l'skii traktat iz «Knigi o vere», 1648 g.)” [Towards the History of Icon-Veneration in Rus’ in the First Half of the 17th Century (a little-known iconophile treatise from the “Book of Faith”, 1648)]. Vestnik PSTGU. Seriia V: Voprosy istorii i teorii khristianskogo iskusstva, vol. 1 (1), pp. 83–96 (in Russian).
  16. Nor N. (2008) “Poniatie «Lubochnoe»: problemy terminologii” [The Notion of “Lubochnoe”: Problems of Terminology]. Vestnik RGGU. Seriia «Istoriia. Filologiia. Kul'turologiia. Vostokovedenie», 4, pp. 222–248 (in Russian).
  17. Pavlova M. (2017) “Chastnoe kollektsionirovanie v Rossii XVIII — nachala XX veka (istorikokul'turnyi aspekt)” [Private Collections in Russia of the 18th — Early 20th Centuries (historical and cultural aspects)]. Vestnik KGU, 4, pp. 31–35 (in Russian).
  18. Prisiazhniuk Iu. (2002) “Tsenzurnoe zakonodatel'stvo v dorevoliutsionnoi Rossii (k voprosu ob istokakh avtorskogo prava): Grazhdanskoe obshchestvo, gosudarstvo i pravo v perekhodnyi period” [Censorship Legislation in Pre-Revolutionary Russia (to the question about the origins of copyright): Civil Society, State, and Lagislation in the Transition Period]. Vestnik Nizhegorodskogo universiteta im. N. I. Lobachevskogo: Grazhdanskoe obshchestvo, gosudarstvo i pravo v perekhodnyi period. Seriia: Pravo, 1 (5), 142–153 (in Russian).
  19. Rozanov V. (1995) Sobranie sochinenii. Okolo tserkovnykh sten [Collected Works. Near Church Walls]. Moscow (in Russian).
  20. Sarab'ianov D. (2003) Rossiia i Zapad [Russia and the West]. Moscow (in Russian).
  21. Wessely E. (2003) O raspoznanii i sobranii graviur: Posobie dlia liubitelei [On Identifi cation and Collection of Engravings. A Manual for Amateurs]. Moscow (Russian translation).
  22. Winckelmann J. (2000) Istoriia iskusstva drevnosti. Malye sochineniia [History of Ancient Art. Minor Writings]. St. Petersburg (Russian translation).

Information about the author

Zhidenko Nadezhda

Student status: Graduate student;
Place of study: St. Petersburg State University of Industrial Technologies and Design; 18 Bol’shaya Morskaya Str., St. Petersburg, 191186, Russian Federation;
ORCID: 0000-0002-7190-8951;
Email: Nadya.zhidenko@bk.ru.

Timofeeva Rimma

Academic Degree: Candidate of Sciences* in Art Criticism;
Academic Rank: Associate Professor;
Place of work: St. Petersburg State University of Industrial Technologies and Design; 18 Bol’shaya Morskaya Str., St. Petersburg, 191186, Russian Federation;
Post: Assistant Professor;
ORCID: 0000-0002-9051-0391;
Email: Rimma.a.timofeeva@gmail.com.

*According to the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) 2011, the degree of Candidate of Sciences (Cand.Sc.) belongs to ISCED level 8 — "doctoral or equivalent", together with PhD, DPhil, D.Lit, D.Sc, LL.D, Doctorate or similar.