Font size:
Major version:

June, 07 - July, 25, 2013

 the front hall of the Armoury Chamber

Organized by:
the Moscow Kremlin Museums 

01# Panagia with cameoThe exposition in the front hall of the Armoury Chamber includes a small part of the unique collection, presented in the fundamental catalogue "Byzantine Antiquities in the Moscow Kremlin Museums". Some masterpieces are being exposed for the first time. Highly esteemed religious objects and church utensils – icons, panagias, pectoral icons and reliquaries, a framed gospel and etc.-, as well as several secular items and golden coins are on display. A number of archeological finds from the treasure-troves, discovered in various parts of the country, serve as witnesses to the centuries of links between Byzantium and Rus'. Among real pieces of workmanship the recently acquired early Byzantine silver dipper of the late IVth century and the XIIth-century cup are worthy of particular note.

The Moscow Kremlin collection of Byzantine antiquities was formed over a long time, the most intensive period being that of the formation of the Russian state and the Russian patriarchate. The core of the collection is the sacred relics from the grand princes' and tsars' treasury, icons from the Kremlin churches and pieces of the state regalia. These deeply venerated objects came to Moscow either from the Imperial City, or via other Russian lands, joined to Muscovy; and after the fall of Constantinople they were being granted by the clergy of the Christian East to the Moscow sovereigns in the XVIth and XVIIth centuries as the heritage of the Orthodox Empire.

Byzantine art is likewise sought after in the modern world, and interest in it has grown rapidly in recent decades. This is due not only to the esthetic merits of its works, but also to their spiritual value. Artworks by Constantinople craftsmen can be found in many European countries: they have become part of their history and national self-consciousness. The Kremlin collection of Byzantine painting occupies a special place as it is distinguished for the icons of great artistic merit and unusual iconography.

The Byzantine artworks in the Moscow Kremlin reveal the relations and interactions between the two cultures; most of them have been being kept in Moscow for centuries, some were mentioned in the wills of the grand princes and tsars, and many of them figured in the inventories of the tsar’s treasury, the Kremlin cathedrals, the Patriarchal Vestry and the documents of the Embassy Office: they served as personal sacred treasures of the princes, tsars, and, later on, emperors and empresses of Russia. Some of the items have been crafted in the XIVth-XVth centuries by Greek masters in collaboration with Russian makers. Several Byzantine pieces have been remodeled or integrated into later Russian artworks.