From 1240 to 1485, Tver was a political, economic and cultural center of a large independent principality. After the incorporation of Tver into the principality of Moscow in 1485, many of its valuable manuscripts and icons were destroyed.
The oldest preserved Tver icon is an icon of the 14th century The Saints Boris and Gleb from the Savvo-Vishersky convent. Brown, red and blue colors in which the saints’ figures are painted, and white haloes against a silver background carry the traces of the Kievan iconographic type. The combination of a light background and saturated figures achieved volume, with this artistic technique having been extensively applied later by the local icon-painters for other artworks as well. The image of the brother saints also carry traces of the Novgorod and Rostov-Suzdal schools’ influence (which can be seen in the ornamentation of the saints’ tunics and extensive use of probely (highlights) for modeling the faces and exposed parts of the body). The probela was used by the Tver icon-painters significantly more often than in other iconographic schools. The distinctive features of Tver iconography are big figures, static composition, heavy and rich coloring and expressive but rough faces.
The icons of the 14th century are notable for linearity, softness and the rich coloring system borrowed from Kievan iconographic style. According to the chronicles of that time, Tver was visited by envoys from Constantinople, and equally sent its envoys to Byzantium’s capital. But the citizens of Tver did not borrow the Paleological iconographic style, staying true to their archaic ideals that they set against Moscow’s innovations.
By the 15th century the Tver iconographic traditions had reached their highest phase of development. The masters more confidently create cool and gleaming backgrounds, multi-dimensional figures and the icons become better ornamented. However, the icons created in this period carry clear traces of Muscovite artistic influence. With the passage time Tver’s artistic individuality was absorbed by canonic Muscovite iconography and lost its distinctive features.