Savior in a Golden Riza (c. 1050)

Antique Russian Icons Preserved to this Day

There is nothing like antique Russian icons. Hand-painted using egg tempera on wood board, often with gold or silver gilding incorporated right into the composition, they are true masterpieces of religious icon art, venerated by Christian believers throughout the world. The good news is that while certain examples of antique Russian icons of Jesus Christ, the Mother of God, and saints are kept in private collections, the most important of them are still available for public view. In fact, they can be found in almost any church and monastery, giving everyone an excellent opportunity to get acquainted with these exceptional pieces of Russian icon art. Moreover, some of the oldest known Russian icons are also displayed these days, and in this blog post, we want to tell you about some of them.

Most important antique Russian icons

  • Icon of the Savior in a Golden Riza

“Savior in a Golden Riza” (see photo above) is one of the most important antique Russian icons preserved to this day. It got its name after a beautiful silver-gilt riza that, unfortunately, did not survive. The original image of the Savior was painted in the mid-11th century; however, in 1699, the icon was entirely overpainted by the tsar’s painter Kirill Ulanov. It is currently kept in the Cathedral of the Dormition in Moscow.

  • Icon of Saints Peter and Paul

Another great example of antique Russian icons from the 11th century is the icon of saints Peter and Paul, which is preserved in the Novgorod State United Museum-Reserve. It depicts the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul full length, with the image of Christ, which appears behind them. This antique icon was also partly overpainted in the 16th century.

Antique icon of Saints Peter and Paul (c. 1050)

  • Icon of St. George and the Virgin Hodegetria

This amazing two-sided antique icon was painted circa 1100, and it is still in a pretty good condition. Along with the icon of the Savior in a Golden Riza, it is kept in the Cathedral of the Dormition in Moscow.

Double-sided icon of St. George and the Virgin Hodegetria (c. 1100)

  • Icon of Our Lady of Vladimir

It is impossible not to mention the renowned icon of Our Lady of Vladimir, which is attributed to St. Luke the Evangelist himself. According to the legend, this fantastic piece of antique Russian icons was brought from Constantinople to Vladimir in the early 12th century. It is currently on display in the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow.

Our Lady of Vladimir attributed to St. Luke the Evangelist

These were the most important antique Russian icons preserved to this day. Each of them is a true masterpiece of religious icon art, which additionally bears great spiritual significance for Christian believers worldwide.