The Vologda icon-painting school covered a vast territory, which the included contemporary Vologda region, some parts of the Perm and Arkhangelsk regions and the Republic of Komi. Numerous icon-painting workshops were founded in Vologda, Beloozero, Veliky Ustyug, Ustyuzhna, Totma, Poshekhonye. Solvychegodsk and some of the largest monasteries in Russia’s north.
The geographic position of the Vologda region bordering the largest iconography centers and the North of Russia, with its folk and predominantly peasant art, determined specific features of the local icon-painting style. It combines the achievements of the largest icon-painting schools with simple and immediate art style of Russia’s North.
The region’s iconographic culture dates back to the 13th century – the time when it was closely associated with the Novgorod and Rostov art traditions. The earliest surviving sample (14th century) of the Novgorod icon-painting is the icon of the Virgin the Eleusa of Podkubenskoe. In its style one can clearly feel the influence of the Byzantine samples, so typical of the Rostov icon-painting. In the composition and the choice of the figures of the bystanders on the icon of the second half of the 14th century The Holy Virgin with bystanding saints Nicholas and Clement one can notice the influence of the Novgorod tradition. Its color interpretation is seen by contemporary researchers as bearing the impact of the Middle Russian painting.
By the late 15th century, with the incorporation of the Vologda region into the Moscow state, the local icon-painting tradition experienced the strongest influence of the Moscow artistic style (such as, for example, the hagiography icon of St. Dimitri Prilutsky of the Savior of Spasso-Prilutsky Monastery). It was the time when the region was frequently visited by the groups of Moscow masters. In 1497 the Moscow masters decorated the iconostasis of the Dormition Cathedral of the St. Cyril of Belozersk Monastery, while in the early 16th century Dionisius and the artists of his school painted the St. Ferapont Monastery and the St. Paul of Obnora Monastery.
Icon-painting culture of the Vologda region reached its highest development in the 16th century, after Vologda had become the prosperous trade and administrative center. So prosperous that Ivan the Terrible even seriously considered plans to move the capital to Vologda. It is in the 16th century that temple icons were painted in most of the city cathedrals. It was the time when temple icons in most of the city churches were created The Vologda iconography- is distinguished from Novgorod and Moscow schools of icon-painters by some archaic style, the evidence of intentional orientation to the early local art tradition.
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