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September, 23, 2010 - January, 16, 2011

Norway, Oslo, the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design

Organized by:
the Moscow Kremlin museums, National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design

Icon "Christ Carrying the Cross"The project was to reveal the magnificence of the Russian religious art as an important part of Russian culture and a church as an embodiment of Russian sacral traditions. Norwegian people have a unique opportunity to see precious pieces of Russian decorative and applied arts – icons, miniatures, textiles and vestments embroidered with gold thread and precious stones, liturgical vessels and jewellery items made of gold and silver and studded with precious stones. The exposition introduces the audience to the sumptuousness of interior of a Russian church and peculiarities of its decoration. Chronologically it covers the period of the Middle Ages as the exhibits range in date from the XVth to XVIIth centuries.

Having been both a sacral place, organized according to strict canons, and a treasury with various masterpieces, preserved there, cathedrals and churches in the territory of the Moscow Kremlin were considered to be essential components of the Russian spiritual life. Their structure and furnishings were successfully reproduced throughout the exposition.

Its first section is dedicated to the main part of a church interior – prealtar space, where church services take place. Here an invented three-row iconostasis with most typical icons is presented. The section also includes liturgical books – Gospels.

Key exhibits of the second section are the painted and embroidered icons of the XVth-XVIIth centuries, sequentially exposing main evangelic scenes: “Annunciation”, “The Nativity of Christ”, “Meeting of the Lord”, “The Baptism of Christ”, “Transfiguration”, “Christ's entry into Jerusalem”, “Washing the Feet of the Disciples”, “The Crowning with Thorns”, “Bearing the Cross”, “The Crucifixion”. Item of particular attention is the embroidered Holy Shroud “The Lamentation of Christ” of the XVIIth century – one of the Christian rarities of the Holy Week. The first and second sections also include liturgical vessels, i.e. chalices, diskoses, asterisks, Communion spoons and bread plate, tabernacles, which are used during sacral ceremonies, as well as embroidered and painted icons, sacred vestments and garments made of precious fabrics, i.e. sakkoses (dalmatics), phelonions, surplices, mitres, orarions, pectoral crosses, panagias and chains.

The final section of the exhibition explores two important themes occupying an important place in the history of the Russian church: the cult of Russian saints and aspects of Power and Church relations. Here you can see a gallery of the most revered saints, distinguished by the Russian Orthodox Church, including icons, pieces of pictorial and ornamental embroidery, jewellery. Icons with patron saints of the Tsar’s family, as well as church utensils of precious metals, executed for Russian churches and monasteries, reveal the correlation between church and temporal power, the idea of supernatural power of the royal family as a protector of the Orthodox Church.

The exposition is concluded the by the icon “The Resurrection” of the XVIIth century, which has been restored specially to the time of the opening of exhibition by efforts of the Norwegian society, that testifies the continuation of the centuries-old history of sponsorship.