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Феофан Грек - на главную




Школа Феофана

Церковь Спаса

Иконостас БС




Feofan Grek (Theophanos The Greek)

Феофан Грек - "Иоанн Креститель", фрагмент

By 1970 the task of restoration of the frescoes by Theophanos the Greek in the Church of the Saviour of the Transfiguration in Novgorod has been completed. And in 1978 it will be six hundred years since the frescoes were painted. This fact suggested to the author the idea of writing a monograph dealing with the decorative system of the Church of the Saviour and make public all the frescoes by Theophanes including even small fragments if they are significant for the overall system of wall painting in the church. Not a single preserved masterpiece of the monumental painting from Novgorod has been reproduced in its entirety. The book devoted to the frescoes in the Church of the Saviour is the first on the subject to be published.

Some Pages from the History of the Church of the Saviour and Its Architecture

The Church of the Saviour of the Transfiguration in the Ilyina Street is situated in the Torgovaya (Trade) Part in the eastern sector of the town. The date of its foundation is still unknown, but it surely existed in the twelfth century. The famous Novgorodian icon of the Virgin of the Sign which in 1169 was brought out onto the town walls and served to its miraculous deliverance from the army of the Suzdalian Prince Andrey Bogoliubsky was kept in it. Those events were recorded in a historical tale of the middle of the fourteenth century. And it was in the fifteenth century that the first icons appeared portraying the siege of Novgorod. The Church of the Saviour was also depicted in these icons, not the wooden twelfth-century version, but the first stone building erected in 1374. Now existing temple differs from these pictorial variants. The big annex from the west in which were the inner parvis and the bells (zvonnitsa) has been removed. The roofing has another view.
But in general the church has come down to us in a fairly good state of preservation. It is one of the masterpieces of the fourteenth-century architecture in Novgorod. It is square in plan with a dome and four supporting pillars. A semicircular apse faces the east. The doors are from the south, west and north. Massive walls are crowned with triangular pediments and decorated with crosses, niches, arches, pilasters and semi-columns. The decorations do not change the general impression produced by the church. It is striking both in its size and in its monumentality, massive walls and expressively arranged architectural forms. In ancient times the appearance of the temple had been more severe but stones and brickwork on the facades were subsequently covered over with a fresh layer of plaster, which changed the former aspect of the building.
The interior of the Church of the Saviour is very simple. Four heavy pillars support high arches, which in turn support the drum with a dome. The walls and vaults are high and flat. There is a faintly lit square room of the ancient vestry in the south-east corner above the diaconicon. A wooden ladder led there. A comparatively small gallery occupies the western part of the church, while two chapels - of SS Cosmas and Damian and the Trinity - are in the south-west and north-west corners. Narrow stairway to the gallery is inserted into the wall. During the Second World War the Church of the Saviour suffered very badly from bombardment. But the building itself survived and in the postwar time it was restored.

Wall Painting Discovered in the Church of the Saviour

The Church of the Saviour was painted by Theophanes the Greek in 1378 by order of the prominent Novgorodian Boyar Vasily Danilovich and the inhabitants of the Ilyina Street. The only information about the fact has been provided by the Third Novgorodian Chronicle written in the late seventeenth century. As it was proved by Professor M. K. Karger this piece of information was given in the ktitor inscription in the church which was later copied for the Novgorodian chronicle.
That the accuracy of many of the statements in chronicles may be called in question and certain faults may occur in copying the fourteenth-century inscription does not make it less important. There are no grounds for doubting its authenticity.
The frescoes from the Church of the Saviour have survived fragmentary. They must have greatly suffered soon after they were executed. The church is known to have been hardly damaged by 1385 fire. Especially actively the painting was being disfigured in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In the nineteenth century the church was renovated repeatedly and many ancient murals must have gone in the course of those renovations.
First attempts to clean the frescoes from the over-painting were done in 1910-12. The work continued in 1918-21, 1923, 1930 and 1935-36. For all those years the frescoes in the dome, above the prothesis, in the altar apse and the diaconicon, the fragments of wall painting on the western wall, under the gallery and in the Trinity Chapel had their over-painting removed. After the war the cleaning did not go on. Gradually there formed the conviction that all the preserved frescoes had been revealed and that it was useless to look for more. The opinion proved to be wrong. When in 1965 restorers began to wash and fix the earlier cleaned painting they found many murals which had been covered with a layer of whitewash. In 1965-70 the frescoes on the altar pillars, in the bema, above the sinthronon, in the lunettes and vaults and, finally, high on the walls were uncovered. New discoveries allow to reconstruct in a general way the system of frecoes in the Church of the Saviour and to characterise Theophanes' style with more concreteness.

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