The Hermitage Museum continues, through excavations at numerous ancient Russian towns, to add to its unique collection of archaeological materials and artefacts dating back to the 10th and 12th centuries. The earliest works relate to the city of Kiev, the so-called "mother of Russian towns," which was the centre of ancient Rus from the 11th to13th centuries; they include thousands of objects made of iron, non-ferrous metals, stone, bone and glass, as well as frescoes and mosaics from the first cathedral in Kiev-the church of the Assumption of the Virgin.
Ancient Rus was made up of a number of principalities, and the art of each of these is marked by its own particular nuances of style. Artefacts telling us much about the culture and way of life of rural communities in these principalities were found in the course of the excavation of the small towns ruined during the Tatar-Mongol invasion, during 1240 to 1241. These include the town of Izyaslavl in the Volyhnia region, Ukraine, and the Fortress of Raikovetsk on the River Dnieper. The pride of the collection are items provided by excavations over many years in the town of Pskov, in north-west European Russia, amongst them well preserved objects of leather and wood.
Many of the objects of artistic value are of religious significance, such as the small metal crosses, reliquaries, small cast icons, pectoral and processional crosses, and stone and metal icons of the 13th and 14th centuries. One unique item of 12th-century Russian cloisonne jewellery is a gold plaque, part of a princely diadem, probably made in some Kiev workshop.
The collection of 12th-century art also includes a group of splendid pieces fashioned from precious metals and produced at workshops both in Moscow and other centres around the kingdom of Muscovy: a gold cross decorated with bright enamel of Patriarch Filaret Nikitich Romanov, father of the first Russian Romanov tsar, Mikhail Feodorovich; the icon The Virgin Eleousa, with a gold setting and precious stones; festive vessels; toilet articles and many other valuable objects.
There is a small but very interesting collection of embroidery, largely shrouds, altar cloths and other items of religious significance. The 16th-century St. Silvester shroud is unusually well preserved.
In addition, we can learn much about everyday life amongst the middle layers of society from the numerous lamps, lanterns, chandeliers, locks and keys, copperware and tinware, caskets and table sets in the collection.
Plaque with the Virgin
Plaque with St. Mark the Evangelist
All rights reserved. Image Usage Policy.
About the Site