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Preliminaries to a

Preliminaries to a history of Bucharest iconostases of 18 th -19 th centuries | 127 Fig. 6: Iconostasis of the Stavropoleos Monastery Church, c. 1730. Credits: Daniel Mihail Constantinescu. Fig. 7: Detail of the feast icons register, Stavropoleos Monastery, c. 1730. Credits: Daniel Mihail Constantinescu. Fig. 8: Jesus Christ Pantocrator, Stavropoleos Monastery, icon assigned to Peter, first half of the 18 th century. Credits: Daniel Mihail Constantinescu. Fig. 9: The Virgin Mary and Child, Stavropoleos Monastery, icon assigned to Peter, first half of the 18 th century. Credits: Daniel Mihail Constantinescu. Saint Hierarchs Athanasius, Nikolas and Spyridon) bears an inscription. It tells us that: “These four holy icons were purchased by the holy Metropolitan ‘chir’ Daniil and were given to the chapel of the holy Metropolitan of Bucharest in 7230”. The text, written in Romanian, overlaps another in Greek, from which the following words can be read: “It was painted this way in ova through the wealth of Ioan in the year 17[22], in the month of August”. 4 The icon of the Entry of the Mother of God into the Temple is obviously the product of an 18 th century Russian workshop. The manner in which the physiognomy is treated, the costume details, the church with Russian architecture held by the Apostles, the background setting with Western-influenced architecture and Baroque drapery, are all clues that point in this direction. The other Royal icons belong to the same stylistic fields: their vestments with golden floraldecorations, minutely-depicted calligraphy, the volume of the faces, the dark brown complexion and heavy melancholic look position them in the Russian icon tradition deriving from the circle of Simon Ushakov (1626-1686), 5 the famous Russian painter and leader of the Tsar’s icon workshop. In the chapel’s icons, the manner of representing Jesus Christ follows the model imposed by Simon Ushakov, undertaken by his pupils and contemporaries, and reproduced with different variations until the 19 th century. 6 The perfect oval face, the regular features with clearly arched eyebrows, the inferior eyelid slightly raised, the hair falling in curls upon the shoulders, the sober expression of a profound calm, incline towards the Western painting to which Ushakov and all his disciples were indebted. A series of stylistic features of the icons from the patriarchal Chapel may lead to the Russian icon-maker Tihon Filatjev Ivanov (1675-1731), the son of the painter Ivan Filateva from Yaroslavl, and follower of Simon Ushakov. 7 Analogies can be established with regards to the decoration of the interior scenes, 8 to the way in which faces and vestments are treated 9 , and, last but not least, to the use of the Baroque cartouche similar to those in the chapel’s icon, bearing an inscription. 10 Tihon was one of those Russian painters working for donors all throughout the Orthodox world, and the icons painted in the Moscow workshops were exported to other countries and mounted in the iconostasis with which the founders were endowing their new foundations. In Wallachia, one may also find Tihon’s icons in Sinaia Monastery. Five pieces signed by Tihon Ivanov are kept in this monastery’s museum, and common knowledge holds that two of them (dated 1702) were originally part of the older iconostasis in the monastery church. 11 An icon of the Three Holy Hierarchs from the iconostasis of Colțea church in Bucharest may also be attributed to Tihon on stylistic grounds. His manner was eclectic: the four decades of this artist’s floruit testify to several different compositional approaches, even though the manner and the decorative solutions seem to be the same, and are specific to the artistic environment from which he originated. The second Brancovan iconostasis in which one may encounter the same juxtaposition between Brancovan icons (in the upper registers) and Russian icons (in the Royal icons) is the one in Stavropoleos. This monastery church was erected by the Greek metropolitan Ioanichie in 1724 as a place of worship for a small community of Greek monks and for the inhabitants of the inn on its premises. In the spirit of his time, and knowledgeable of Russian painting, 12 the founder and abbot of the monastery also chose a Russian icon-maker from the Tsar’s Kremlin workshops to paint the large icons.

128 | sister Atanasia Văetiși Fig. 10: Saint Charalambos, Stavropoleos Monastery, icon assigned to Peter, first half of the 18 th century. Credits: Daniel Mihail Constantinescu. Fig. 11: Detail of the icon of Saint Charalambos with Peter’s signature (“Peter icon-maker from Great Russia”), Stavropoleos Monastery. Credits: Daniel Mihail Constantinescu. Two of the four Royal icons now present in the Stavropoleos iconostasis belong to the original iconostasis – Jesus Christ Pantocrator and the Mother of God Hodegetria with the Infant Christ. However, the monastery museum collection also contains an icon of Saint Charalambos 13 which was also, until recently, part of the iconostasis. Its inscription (“Peter icon-maker from Great Russia”) may help attribute the authorship of the whole series. Nevertheless, one may only succeed in doing so if the demonstration takes into account a different series, signed by the same Peter in the iconostasis of another Bucharest church, Saint Spyridon the Old. 14 The three icons preserved there (Jesus Christ Enthroned with Angels, the Mother of God with the Infant Christ and Saint John the Baptist, Angel of the Desert) are signed with the formula: “Teodor’s Peter, Russian history-painter in Bucharest”. One of them also mentions the year of the painting: 1736. Just like Saint Charalambos in Stavropoleos, Saint John the Baptist in the church of Saint Spyridon the Old is represented standing within a landscape background treated in sfumato. The vestments of the Saviour and Theotokos have the same serial gold calligraphic floral decoration; the faces, treated in volume, have the same dark brown complexion specific to Russian painting. Only two of the six icons on this theme – three in Stavropoleos and three in Saint Spyridon – are unsigned: the Mother of God with the Infant Christ and the Jesus Christ in Stavropoleos. The stylistic and compositional similarities point towards the same Peter who painted the Stavropoleos icon of Saint Charalambos. The formula in which this Peter has signed is novel: he presents himself as a painter arrived in Bucharest, working in the capital of Wallachia. Interest in Russian art was manifest at that time throughout the Orthodox countries. Although they were still strongly connected to the great tradition of Byzantine technique and aesthetics, the painters and donors of the 18 th century were also open to Western influences. Western engravings were circulating throughout the East-European territory. The fondness of the cultural elite for Western art and for the aesthetics of the Renaissance and Baroque had a strong impact on Orthodox painters, and, consequently, on the icons’ donors. 15 Some founders of Bucharest Brancovan iconostases (all of whom belonged to the church hierarchy: metropolitan Daniil in the Patriarchal chapel, metropolitan Ioanichie in Stavropoleos, Patriarch Sylvester of Antioch in Saint Spyridon) adapted to this context. In doing so, they were following the fashion of the time. They erected monuments in a style characteristic of the Wallachian art of the time, they endowed them with similar iconostases, but for the larger icons, which would have had a powerful impact on the worshippers, they opted for the newest tendencies, in the spirit of their time. “...The faces to be flawless and pleasant to look at”, or how to introduce modernity into traditional forms. Another category of iconostases worth considering can be encountered in the succeeding period (second half of the 18 th century) within three Bucharest churches; these can be catalogued, from a sculptural perspective, as belonging to a Hellenistic Neo-baroque style. Greek ecclesiastic sculpture in the second half of the 18 th century and at the beginning of the 19 th century bears a strong Baroque influence. Iconostases underwent significant changes throughout this period as to their compositional structure, technique, and style. The relief becomes high and the number of lacelike rails increases. The subject matter is considerably enriched and numerous compositional paths appear, includ-

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