Russian Art of the 17th 19th centuries (Treasury Chamber)

The Treasury Chamber is one of the oldest stone buildings of the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery. Its construction dates back to 1523 when it was a moderate-sized square structure adjoining the west wall of the Holy Gate. Later, in the second half of the 16th century, the Treasury Chamber was extended westwards. The arcade rested on two pillars and block walls. Flat-arched vaults were built from the side walls to the arcade. Two tiers of niches destined for keeping different things were made in the walls of the building alternating with windows.

Extant wall pockets show that inside the building was divided into two tiers with wooden floors. They were dismantled only in the 1920s.

Icons from the Church of St. Epiphanius of Cyprus are exhibited in the first hall of the Treasury Chamber. This church was built near the Assumption Cathedral over the grave of the prince Fyodor Andreevich Telyatevsky in 1645. It is considered that the icons for its iconostasis were created by the famous painter of Vologda Terenty Fomin in the same year. In 1648, local craftsman Kalina decorated the icons of the lowest tier with gilded silver settings. The iconostasis consisted of four ranges: local, Deesis, festival and prophets. The Royal Doors, some icons of the Deesis and the prophets tiers painted in the 17th century are displayed in the Treasury Chamber.

These icons are painted in a rather archaic way: the figures are static, the combination of red and green prevail in the local colours, the letters on the scrolls are large and simple. The images have much in common with the Vologda painting of the 17th century.

In 1722 and 1759, the Holy Synod ordered to replace the old icons with the new ones with the same images. Their use was sanctioned by the highest clergymen of the state. They were to meet new demands of the Russian society. People began to get acquainted with the European art. Icon-painters used engravings of the original works of West-European artists as models. They complicated or simplified the traditional composition schemes under their influence. The icons of the feast range from the Church of St. Epiphanius of Cyprus created in the 17th century were most likely replaced with the new ones at that time. They corresponded to the spirit of the times.

Three icons of the festival tier painted in the late 18th century are presented at the exhibition: “Old Testament Trinity”, Descent into Hell, Ascension.


Iconostasis of the Transfiguration Church of 1595

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