Exhibition of Church Art Works from the Private Collection of Olga and Alexander Ilyins

The first exhibit was an icon with the depiction of six full-length saints dating back to the first half of the 15th century and belonging to the Catalan school of painting.

Catalonia is located in the north-east of Spain. The Catalan school of painting was the most progressive branch of the Spanish artistic culture in the 14th-15th centuries. It flourished owning to peculiarities of the historical development of Catalonia, its local artistic traditions and close trade and cultural relations with France, Italy and the Netherlands. Monuments of such a level become rare wonderful masterpieces not only in the collection of the Ilyins, but in our country in general.

The exhibition also presented settings made of different materials, in different techniques and at different times. They are especially significant because many of them have stamps with the manufacture date and the master’s name.

A bronze Sestroretsky ruble of the 18th century can be named a rare exhibit in the museum collections.

These coins were specially issued for banknotes backing. They were coined at the Sestroretsky Mint and at the Sestroretsky Armory. Canons which were unfit for use were mainly applied for local manufacture of coins.

Cast copper articles of the 18th-19th centuries form an interesting part of the collection. Copper plastic art is a peculiar kind of applied arts which was introduced in Russia long ago.

When Russia was converted to Christianity, cast copper articles were the most numerous church objects. It was explained by simple technique of their manufacture, relatively cheap materials and great demand of the population. Metal that cast well was used for founding. Natural copper doesn’t belong to ideal metals for casting. It was seldom used in pure form. They used bronze – an alloy of copper and tin - and brass – an alloy of copper and zinc.

The art of the 19th-century casters was fully represented at the exhibition: icons, crosses and folding icons. The Old Believers had a special attitude to cast copper icons and crosses. They considered them to be purified by fire, but not hand-made.

G.I. Vzdornov, Doctor of Art History, corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and honorary academician of the Russian Academy of Arts since 2004, noted that “private collecting gave a powerful incentive to the science of Old Russian painting...”

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