Old Russian Icons
Icons by various old Russian masters

On this page you will find icons that come from different locals and belong to different schools of icon painting (those of Moscow, Pskov, Novgorod, Tver and other). In Old Russia, it was not customary to sign icons, so in some cases authorship, date and place of origin can only be guessed or simply remain unknown.

The icons are arranged in a chronological order. It is interesting to trace the development of iconographic style over the centuries, which, of course, is a task that requires more material than presented here.

The icon is meant to symbolically represent spiritual reality. Thus an icon of a saint should be understood as that saint's spiritual portrait, not a physical portrait. Nonetheless, Russian icons eventually acquired a decorative character. In the 17th century, icons of Simon Ushakov and other masters lost much of the initial spiritual strength by giving a greater attention to the physical aspects, such as shading nuances (compare the 14th century icon of the Image of the Savior Not-Made-By-Hands with that of Ushakov).

With the development of restoration methods, Old Russian icons were virtually rediscovered in the beginning of the 20th century and had a major impact on a number of Russian avant-garde painters.