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End of the Empire of Nicholas IIReign of Alexander II and Alexander IIIReign of Paul I, Alexander I, and Nicholas IEra of Catherine the GreatReign of Anna IoannovnaPeter the GreatIcons of Ancient RussiaArchaeological Artifacts

Medieval Russian objects entered the collection not only through excavations, but also through acquisitions and expeditions by Hermitage curators to outlying areas of Russia, gathering objects from abandoned and ruined churches. In this way, the Museum has built up a small but important collection of old Russian icons which gives us some idea of the development of large artistic centres, particularly in the northern regions. It includes wonderful examples of the Novgorod, Moscow and Yaroslav Schools and also works from the Northern Schools. The 14th-century icons are renowned - the St Nicholas on a red ground is an example of monumental icon painting of the Novgorod School; two large icons with The Last Judgement and St Nicholas with Scenes from his Life; several well-preserved fragile tablet icons of masterly execution, one of which bears an Annunciation and Selected Saints (late 15th-early 16th centuries); the Pskov Epiphany (early 15th century) is notable for its deviation from the traditions of icon painting, which usually employed a somewhat more restrained palette. Most impressive of all, however, is a double-sided icon showing The Saviour and the Virgin (early 14th century).

The Moscow School is represented by numerous icons including pieces from iconostases - screens of icons which divided the altar in a church from the main body. The Deesis tier had at the centre an image of Christ enthroned with the Virgin Mary and St John the Baptist while the Church Feasts tier had a row of icons depicting church festivals and the lives of prophets or saints. The elegant, refined miniature style of late 15th- and 16th-century icons from Moscow - as in The Nativity of Christ and The Transfiguration (both 16th century), and two icons of St Nicholas and St George with scenes from their lives - is particularly beautiful.

Christ the Almighty
Second half of the 13th-14th century
Larger view

St. Nicholas
Late 13th-early 14th century
Larger view

The Annunciation.
Late 15th-16th century
Larger view

St John the Divine in Silence
Larger view

The Nativity
16th century
Larger view


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