Raising of Lazarus, the Trinity, the Purification of the Virgin Mary, St. John the Baptist ...
Four-part icon: The Raising of Lazarus, the Trinity, the Purification of the Virgin Mary, St. John the Baptist and St. Prochorus
A transitional work in many respects, this world-famous icon was found in the Church of St. George, in Novgorod. The structure of the icon itself, with its four independent subjects, conscious interrelation of forms, and contrasting colors is reminiscent of fourteenth century icons. The balanced, almost architectonic composition of the work, however, reflects the emerging interest in architectural form of the fifteenth century, when the icon was created. It was not until the sixteenth century, however, that color became a more dominant component of icons, and artists began expending greater effort to achieve harmony among stronger hues.
The history of Novgorod, one of the oldest Russian towns, spans eleven centuries. Having escaped the Mongol invasion of the early thirteenth century, it became an important center of learning and painting, and spearheaded the cultural revival of the fourteenth century. During this time it preserved the Byzantine traditions that constituted the core of Russian art. The city, though located on the great Russian plain, was linked via deep rivers and lakes to the Black, Baltic, Caspian, and White Seas. Accordingly, Novgorod became one of the greatest trading centers of eastern Europe, supporting commerce which exceeded that of Genoa or Venice. Constantinople had close ties with the city and there were Novgorodian translators and manuscript transcribers living in Constantinople. Artworks from Byzantium, Scandinavia, the Caucasus and Central Asia were brought to the city.
Novgorodian painting constitutes a particularly celebrated aspect of old Russian art and Novgorodian icons are highly treasured by institutions fortunate enough to include them in their holdings.