Most Famous Russian Iconographic Schools

The Russian iconography might seem quite a mysterious and ambivalent craft for a modern viewer. There are lots of reasons for that. First and foremost, it is an ancient craft that emerged and was widely relevant long ago. Today, the global processes in the Russian icons industry are oriented more on restoration and preservation of icons rather than creating new ones. Besides, icons contain a lot of deciphered information meticulously masked by icon painters, which makes reading and comprehension of antique icons a pretty challengingtask.

Today, important icons are carefullypreserved in churches, icon museums, andalsoprivate collections of affluent art collectors. That being said, original antique Russian icons are not cheap, so it is not that easy to purchase truly valuable ones. Furthermore, they area very exceptional and even extraordinary domain of knowledge Degree, which always requires a great deal of rare data.

However, if you want to add several icons to your collection, or you are just curious about Russian iconography, there is a way to get to know this ancient craftbetter. What you should do is learn some basics and become at least a bit savvy in the world of iconography. The most proven way of achieving this goal is through learning some essential information about the most famous Russian iconography schools that you, ideally, should know like the palm of your hand. Why? Free Vector Design Because only in such a case, youcan adequately estimate what you see and, thus, have a deeper understanding of religious icons.

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A brief note on the history of Russian iconography

Before you proceed to the list of the famous iconographic schools, it pays to learn some history behind religious icon art. To start with, Russian iconography is not originally derived from Russia. The first icons belong to the Byzantine Empire. Later, they were transported to Kyiv, the main capital of KyivanRus at that time. From then on, the term “Russian icon”was coined, and that moment became a new stage in the history of iconography.

To cut a long story short, icon art has gone through different periods of history. For example, Ivan the Terrible made it mandatory to take the examination of every icon; without it, icons couldnot be displayed. In the Soviet era, icons were banned since communistic ideology was against religion and all its symbols and manifestations. These days, icons are completely safe and sound, but it is hard to imagine how many of them were destroyed, stolen, or lost for good. That is the primary reason why antiqueicons are so much valued and appreciated today. Now, let’sfocus on the central idea of this article.

Most famous Russian iconographic schools

Byzantine iconographic school

The Byzantine cultural heritage is terrific, considering how many artifactsit left. Byzantines were great craftsmen, and that is why their icons were made with exceptional care and taste.

Greek iconographic school

Greek iconography developed after the fall of Constantinople. This school inherited the majority of patterns from the Byzantine Empire and yet added some new features that would fit the new standards of thetime.

Vladimir-Suzdalicon painting school

This icon painting school was a breakthrough for the world of icons. Not only did it foster and promote unique icon paintingin Kyiv, but it also played a huge role in the development of iconography in Middle lands (KyivanRus).

Novgorod iconographic school

As a town, Novgorod particularly thrived in the 13th century thatcan be characterized as quite a fruitful and artistically rich period. As for the icons, Novgorod icon painters adopted the techniques from both Kyiv and Vladimir-Suzdaliconographic schools.

Palekh iconographic school

Palekh iconographic school was more tilting to the European style while saving the core of Russian iconography. Palekh icons were smoother in nature. However, they are also known for their abundance of miniature elementsthat make these icons more complicated against the background of others.

Stroganov icon painting school

Named after the Stroganov family, this icon painting school emerged in the second half of the16th century and became extinct in the first half of the 17th century. The distinguishing features of the Stroganov icons are pale colors and complicated figures and landscapes.

Iconographic school of Royal Masters

The name speaks for itself. This iconographic school had to be one of the best, which explains why icon painters from this school used a variety of high-end techniques. They were frequently hired by the Russian royal court, so the stakes were really high.


This list of the most famous Russian iconographic schools should serve you as a good introduction to the world of religious icons. Now, you can start exploring Russian iconography by yourself and make a great contribution to the field either by collecting icons or by sharing the information about them to a wider audience.

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