Iconostasis of the Transfiguration Church of 1595

The exhibition “Iconostasis of the Transfiguration Church of 1595” was opened in the Treasury Chamber of the Kirillo-Belozersky Museum-Reserve on December 20, 2014. Twenty-three icons, carved pieces of the iconostasis and images from the other churches of the monastery are displayed in two halls.

The Church of Transfiguration has two internal piers. It was built on the model of the gate Church of St. John Climacus erected earlier. Inexperienced stonemasons of the monastery evidently constructed it. They had carried out only secondary construction work before and had gained professional experience under the direction of the Rostov architects erecting buildings in the cloister. The description of the church of 1601 has come down to us: The crosses are iron. The roof is covered with German iron, the sanctuaries and the church vaults are covered with boards. The church itself was crowned with three domes (windows were made only in the central drum) and three rows of kokoshniks (decorate gables) adorned with traditional for the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery decorative elements.

The interior decoration of the church was rather simple. Velvet veils could be seen on its walls. Several embroidered festive palls from the Church of Transfiguration have come down to us and are kept in the collection of the State Russian Museum. The church was also decorated with chandeliers and candles. The building was well-lit. Three copper chandeliers hung in front of the iconostasis, two – behind the pillars, one in the side-chapel of St. Irene and one in the side-chapel of St. Nicholas. There were also painted candles and wooden chiseled gilded candlesticks. The holy vessels in the church were rather simple as well: there were wooden, gold church plates …, but a copper vessel for zeon.

The iconostasis of the Church of Transfiguration consisted of four tiers of icons that were placed on horizontal transoms: local, Deesis, festival and prophets’. All images, except for the festival tier, were painted before 1595. At present there are 43 icons in the iconostasis, 25 of them date back to the 16 century when the church was constructed. A small team of artists who were connected with some art centre of the North created the iconostasis. The monastery documents of the 18th century mention the icons of the 18th century on the place of the initial festival tier of the 16th century.

Restoration of the iconostasis in the Church of Transfiguration started in the 1960s. It was opened for visitors in 1985. At present the church is being restored again and it has been decided to display the icons in the Treasury Chamber.

Visitors can see 23 images of the late 16th century from the Deesis and the prophets tiers and 4 images of the festival row of the 18th century. Besides, carved elements of the 16th early 17th centuries are presented in the exhibition.

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