What Is Stroganov Icon-Painting School?

Dmitry Trofimov, head of the Tsargrad creative workshops  answers.

Almost every icon has a customer, but only one family of patrons gave their name to a whole trend in Russian art. Stroganovs are the dynasty of merchants and industrialists who, beginning from the sixteenth century, confidently developed the lands of Kama* and Perm, built temples and ordered icons, primarily for the churches of their northern fiefdoms in  Solvychegodsk, Veliky Ustyug and Perm.

“Prayer for the People, with the Rostov Saints” (in the foreground: Rostov bishops Leonty, Isaiah and Ignatius; in the background: Bishop Jacob, Peter, the Horde prince, the Venerable Isidor, the Venerable Abraham)

Stroganovs opened their workshops and called them icon-painting “chambers”. Artists who worked there signed their icons, making their names known in our age. For example an icon of St Maximus the Confessor is signed: “By the order of Maxim Yakovlevich Stroganov, painted by his man, Istoma Gordeev.”

Icon of St Maximus the Confessor with hagiographic scenes

Because Stroganovs owned almost a third of the country’s land, and their orders were carried out by many various artists, the iconographic style representing Stroganov School is quite versatile. And yet all these icons have common features. Among them is the virtuosity of technique, as well as the freshness of colors and, most importantly, the depth of theological interpretation showing the attitude to the icon as to an artistic reflection on the Divine disposition.

The Holy Trinity with Scenes from Genesis, 1580s, Solvychegodsk History and Art Museum

The masters turned to rare subjects, for example, “The Holy Trinity with Scenes from Genesis” or the liturgical composition “As Cherubs”. The images of “Sophia, the Wisdom of God”, “The Mother of God of the Untamed Mountain”, “The Mother of God on the Throne” are also excellent exponents of Stroganov school.

Creation of the World with Selected Saints. (…and God rested on the seventh day). Late 16th – early 17th century

The Stroganov icon painters created wonderful multi scene hagiographic icons describing in great depth the lives of saints from the first centuries of Christianity, e.g. the heavenly patrons of the prominent merchant family members, Maximus the Confessor or Nicetas the Goth.

* Kama – a river in Northern Russia

Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds
Source: https://foma.ru/chto-takoe-stroganovskoe-pismo.html


About the author

The Editor of the Catalog of Good Deeds.

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