The hagiographic cycles of St. Prince Vladimir of Kiev Equal to the Apostles have been encountered in medieval Russian art in monumental paintings since the mid-16th century. One icon from Vologda’s Church of the Nativity of the Mother of God featuring Princes Vladimir, Boris and Gleb with fourteen border scenes dates back to the third quarter of the 16th century (now located at the Vologda State Museum of History Architecture and Art).

The hagiographic cycles of St. Prince Vladimir are dedicated to the Baptism of Rus and include the following scenes: St. Vladimir sends envoys to Muslims, Catholics, Orthodox Christians and the Jews; St. Vladimir’s dispute about faith; St. Vladimir besieges Khersones; the baptism of Prince Vladimir; the blind man sees the light when baptized; the transfer of the Roman Pope St. Clement’s relics to Kiev; the destruction of pagan idols; the baptism of Kiev citizens; St. Vladimir prays after baptizing the Kievans.

The images of Prince Vladimir are also encountered in the border scenes of the hagiographic icons of Boris and Gleb. Their themes are: Prince Vladimir is present at the birth of his sons Boris and Gleb; Prince Vladimir sends Boris and Gleb to govern their principlaities; the sick Prince Vladimir sends Boris to war against the Pechenegs; the entombment of Prince Vladimir. The earliest of the surviving images of Prince Vladimir is a 16th century icon of Boris and Gleb with scenes from their lives from Kolomna (The State Tretyakov Gallery).

Zhanna G. Belik,

Ph.D. in Art history, senior research fellow at the Andrei Rublyov Museum, custodian of the tempera painting collection.

Olga E. Savchenko,

research fellow at the Andrei Rublyov Museum.


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