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The Moscow Kremlin Museums houses a collection of three thousand icons. The historically formed complex covers the period from the end of the 11th to the beginning of the 20th century. The core of the collection is made up of works painted for the decoration of cathedrals, Tsar’s and Patriarch’s chambers and private chapels of the Moscow Kremlin.

The early icons which adorned the first stone cathedrals of the 14th century give an idea of the development of Moscow school of painting. These include the icons of the Trinity, Our Saviour - The Fiery Eye, The Saviour (shoulder length), The Mandylion of the 14th century from the Assumption Cathedral, The Archangel Michael and Angels’ Deeds of the late 14th century from the Archangel Cathedral. The Annunciation Cathedral preserves the earliest multi-tiered iconostasis with the masterpieces from the late 14th and early 15th centuries, belonging to the circle of Theophanes the Greek and Andrey Rublev.

Works by Dionisy and the masters of his workshop that adorned the interior of the Assumption Cathedral, just built by Aristotle Fioravanti, date from the late 15th to early 16th century. Among them there is an icon of St Peter, the first Metropolitan of Moscow, with Life Scenes.

A significant part of the icons has been preserved from the time when the cathedrals were decorated under the first Russian Tsar Ivan IV the Terrible in the middle and second half of the 16th century. Unique iconostasis complexes created for small side chapels of that time are displayed in the Annunciation Cathedral.

During the period when Moscow was becoming the capital of the united Russian state, the famous holy relics from other centres of Russia were brought to the Kremlin. The Assumption Cathedral holds the oldest artefact in the collection – a double-sided icon of Our Lady Hodegetria and St George, painted at the turn of the 12th century.

During the reign of the first tsars of the Romanov dynasty in the 17th century, royal icon-painters created masterpieces in the workshops of the Armoury Chamber in the Kremlin, making complexes of multi-tiered iconostases for the Church of the Deposition of the Virgin’s Robe (icon painter Nazary Istomin Savin), the Assumption (1653) and the Archangel (1679-1681) cathedrals. Royal icon painters Yakov Kazanets, Nikita Pavlovets, Mikhail Milyutin, Simon Ushakov and others also worked in the Kremlin in this period.

Icons of the Moscow Kremlin’s architectural monuments destroyed in the 1930s, such as the Chudov Monastery, the Ascension Convent, the Cathedral of the Saviour on the Hill and others, are kept in the funds of the Moscow Kremlin Museums. A part of the icons of the Solovetsky Monastery, which had been abolished, was transferred to the Museum.

 

Explore the collection of the Moscow Kremlin Museums online

 
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