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Onufrienko Maksim

"Now the Powers of Heavens invisibly serve with us…". On the history of the liturgical plots in mediaeval Russian art


Onufrienko Maksim (2023) ""Now the Powers of Heavens invisibly serve with us…". On the history of the liturgical plots in mediaeval Russian art ", Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia V : Voprosi istorii i teorii hristianskogo iskusstva, 2023, vol. 51, pp. 68-82 (in Russian).

DOI of the paper: 10.15382/sturV202351.68-82

Abstract

The depiction of liturgical life played a crucial role in the Russian art of the 16th-17th century. There was a number of newly created scenes emerged at the time: Let All Human Flesh Be Silent, The Cherubikon, The Vision of St. Gregory the Theologian and Now the Powers of the Heaven. The rarity of the latter, provided by the only example kept in the State Tretyakov Gallery, caused a special interest for the study. The upper part of the composition is occupied by the image of Heaven, where the Savior sits in majesty in the center surrounded by the angels. In the lower part, the saint bishop celebrates the liturgy against the backdrop of the temple. The icon is inscribed with a quotation from a hymn sung at the Liturgy of the Presanctified gifts. We find a similar set of motifs in another scene known as A Saint Celebrates the Liturgy. The depictions of it carry other inscriptions: The Liturgy, A Saint Bishop Serves the Lord, etc., however, the composition itself seems precisely repeated. In the center of the composition, there is a saint bishop approached by the laypeople. In the upper part, the Savior within a mandorla is depicted surrounded by the Heavenly Powers. In other words, the core motif of a saint bishop in front of the altar which is considered a marker for liturgical scenes is supplemented here with the depiction of laypeople or saints coming and with the image of the Lord in Majesty. The use of the similar set of motifs indicates the parallel development of liturgical scenes in the Late Medieval Russian art. The semantics of the subjects A Saint Bishop Celebrates the Liturgy and Now the Powers of Heaven also coincide with other liturgical compositions. They express the idea of unity between believers and the Heavenly world and besides they clearly show the way to reach the Paradise through the liturgy.

Keywords

Liturgy, icon painting, Medieval Russian Art, Now the Powers of the Heaven, Let the Mortal Flesh Keep Silence, The Cherubikon, liturgical subjects

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Information about the author

Onufrienko Maksim


Student status: Graduate student;
Place of study: State Research Institute for Restoration; 44/1 Ul., Gastello, Moscow, 107014, Russian Federation;
Post: Junior Researcher;
ORCID: 0000-0003-4756-8309;
Email: maksimonufrienko@icloud.com.