The Russian icon was always associated with the Byzantine tradition but a long distance from Constantinople and vast territories allowed for the development of independent regional art schools. While the basic iconographic types came to Rus from Byzantium, in the new homeland the icon acquired other emotional shadows and new themes.

  • The Byzantine icon painting

    The splendid Byzantine culture spread across vast territories that included Asia Minor, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, the Balkan Peninsula, Armenia, Ancient Rus, and this list is far from complete. While icons created in these regions are generally credited to the Byzantine iconographic school, the art of Constantinople was interpreted by local iconographers in accordance with their own traditions. Thus, by the Byzantine iconographic school we normally imply the icons created not far from or immediately in Constantinople.

  • Vladimir-Suzdal icon-painting school

    The leading iconographic centers in the Middle Russian lands in the second half of the 12th century were Vladimir and Suzdal - the towns that played a great role in maintaining the traditions of the Kiev icon-painting. The icons of Our Lady of Bogolyubskoe (the middle of the 12th century), The Savior Emmanuel with Angels (the late 12th century) along with the early Novgorod icons best represent the Byzantine icon-painting legacy in the Ancient Rus art memorials of the 12th century.

  • The Vologda school

    The Vologda icon-painting school covered a vast territory, which included the contemporary Vologda region, some parts of the Perm and Arkhangelsk regions and the Republic of Komi. Numerous icon-painting workshops were founded in Vologda, Beloozero, Veliky Ustyug, Ustyuzhna, Totma, Poshekhonye. Solvychegodsk and some of the largest monasteries in Russia’s north.

  • The Greek iconographic school

    After the fall of Constantinople in 1453, the center of Greek iconography moved to Crete – Candia, which became a refuge for icon-painters fleeing from the Turkish conquest. Between 1210 and 1669, Crete was under the rule of Venetian Republic that provided it with extensive trade connections and protection from Turkey. Many icons of that time were painted on commission from Catholic and Orthodox Christian countries and monasteries. The largest customers of the icons were Greek monasteries at Sinai, Athon and Pathmos. The fall of Constantinople increased interest in its culture in Italy, France, Flandria and Western Europe in general.

  • Moscow school

    The early Moscow art of the 12th-13th centuries is hard to explore as the memorials of that time didn’t survive. It can be suggested, however, that the local icon-painters oriented themselves to the art traditions of the Vladimir-Suzdal principality. As Moscow struggled to establish itself as a state and spiritual leader since the 14th century, the art life of the Moscow principality was falling under a strong influence of the Prince and Metropolitan of Muscovy.

  • Novgorod school

    As early as the middle of the 11th -12th centuries, the Novgorod icons acquired features that would prevail in the local icon-painting school founded in the 13th century. Thus, the palette of the St. George icon is composed of local color spots. The 13th century was the time of the highest development of the Novgorod art school.

  • The Palekh iconographic school

    The Palekh iconographic school as an independent art movement dates back to the late 17th century. As early as the beginning of the 17th century, the Moscow iconography, and, later, the Suzdalian icon-painting had been affected by the naturalistic trends of European art that would eventually reflect themselves in the Palekh icons.

  • Pskov icon-painting school

    Pskov icon-painting school appeared in the 13th century, reaching its highest development by the late 14th – early 15th centuries. The evolution of the Pskov art was,to a great extent, determined by the history of the Pskov land, its independence from other Ancient Rus states, and the border position.

  • The Rostov icon-painting school

    The early 13th century marks the resumption of stone house-building suspended by the Mongol yoke, and the appearance of first iconographic images. They are distinguished for the pronounced influence of Byzantine monuments, pre-Mongolian local traditions, Hellinism and archaism.

  • The Old Believer ornamental copper-casting

    “A clear image deserving veneration.” No other words can better describe the cast copper icons and crosses the Old Believer masters created across the vast territories of Russia for almost three hundred years, from the late 17th until the early 20th century – in Pomorian hermitages, workshops in the vicinity of Moscow, in the villages of the Volga region, or in secret smithies in the Urals and Siberia.

  • Old Believer iconographic school

    Old Believer iconography dates back to the church reform introduced by Patriarch Nikon in the mid-17th century. The Old Believers divided into popovtsy (with priests) and bezpopovtsy (priestless). The latter refused to recognize church hierarchy and zealously opposed any iconographic innovations.

  • Stroganov icon-painting school

    The Stroganov icon-painting school (the second half of the 16th – the first half of the 17th century)is the most outstanding phenomenon in history of the ancient Rus icon-painting. It owes its name to the Stroganov family merchants. After the conquer of Novgorod by Ivan the Terrible, the Stroganov merchants moved from Novgorod to Solvychegodsk where they organized an icon-painting workshop. The Stroganov art school inherited the traditions of the Moscow icon-painting.

  • Tver iconographic school

    From 1240 to 1485, Tver was a political, economic and cultural center of a large independent principality. After the incorporation of Tver into the principality of Moscow in 1485, many of its valuable manuscripts and icons were destroyed.

  • Kremlin Armory School of icon-painters

    The Kremlin Armory school of icon-painters appeared in the 1640s, following the dissolution of the Iconic Chancery (Prikaz) and affiliation of the Iconic Chamber with the Armory. The school was run by boyard Khitrovo, a fine art connoisseur with SImon Ushakov put as a supervisor of the icon-painting works.

  • School of Royal Masters

    The icon-painting of the 17th century combines strictly observed Russian Orthodox traditions and foreign art influence that have led to innovation of artistic techniques. A willingness to emphasize the beauty and splendor of the terrestrial world as reflection of the beauty of the divine world has manifested in decorative richness, worked-out details, wealth of shapes, development of architectural backgrounds and the grown role of ornamental decoration of icons.

  • Yaroslavl school

    In 1218 Yaroslavl became the capital of an independent Principality of Yaroslavl. A rapid church growth facilitated the development of the local icon-painting school. The specific features of the Yaroslavl icon-painting are clear colors, free and challenging painting style. The images are emphatically decorated, sometimes even excessively, which makes them especially joyful. This manner is also manifested in the depiction of the icon characters’ faces, in which austerity gives way to kindness and benevolence.