Purification of the Virgin Mary
The Purification of the Virgin Mary
The Assumption Cathedral in Vladimir
The Orthodox believed that the Holy Spirit dwelled in man and could be made manifest through artistic expression. For this reason, those individuals employed to paint icons and other types of religious art were considered holy people. They prepared themselves spiritually through prayer and regular fasting. Andrei Rublev was himself a monk, a typical vocation of those who produced religious images.
The monastic movement in Russia gathered momentum during Rublev's youth; this expansion was due in large part to the influence of St. Sergei of Radonezh and his disciples. St. Sergei's teachings stressed moral purity, humility, and meditation, and conceived poverty as a blessed state. Those ascetic teachings inform Russian aestheticism from this period and pervade Rublev's work.
The time which Rublev spent in Moscow working alongside Theophanes the Greek was equally important for the development of his style. It was from Theophanes the Greek that Rublev learned the elements of classical Byzantine icon painting. Rublev's pieces combined innovative use of classical Byzantine style with the best attributes of fourteenth-century Russian icon painting. Above all, Rublev's works were praised for their deep spiritual content, which far surpasses any of the compositions of his contemporaries.