Everything You Should Know About 16th-Century Antique Russian Icons

Everything You Should Know About 16th-Century Antique Russian Icons

Appreciators and collectors of Russian religious icons know that each historical period of Russia was distinguished by certain changes and events that shaped the production of antique Russian icons. The same is true about the 16th century – a turning period for the Russian iconography in many senses of the word. During this historical epoch, several important iconographic schools shaped and gained influence, such as the Novgorod, Stroganov, and Moscow ones. Along with these mainstream schools known to everyone, the Kiev, Ustiug, Suzdal, and Fryazh schools are known in expert circles. Moreover, the icons of the Siberian iconography school were distinct in that period, and a seasoned professional in the area of icon appraisal will surely distinguish one from another.

Why should an owner of the 16th-century antique Russian icons learn the differences between these schools? First, the peculiarities of painting techniques are pronounced in the works of artists belonging to different schools. These details may stand out once an evaluator takes a closer look at the fine finishing of the icon, sharpness or softness of brushstrokes, brightness of colors and richness of the color palette, as well as proportionality of depicted holy figures.

Second, knowing to which school your Russian Orthodox icon belongs is always a clue to its market value as some collectors appreciate certain schools higher than others. Hence, your chances to strike a lucrative deal for the relic are higher if it was created by a rare or, on the contrary, highly popular and valued school’s artist.

Despite the diversity of schools and vibrance of performance techniques that existed in the 16th century, all antique icons created at that time shared one significant commonalty – they complied with the general principles of Byzantine iconography. Thus, the 16th-century antique Russian icons were still in line with the Greek iconographic tradition as the authentic Russian Orthodox approach to visual representation of Biblical figures did not yet take shape.

Experts of Russian Icon always share the knowledge about Orthodox icons of various historical periods with clients who come to offer their antique Russian icons for sale or wish to have them appraised. Contact us today to find out more about your family relic or receive its objective valuation to sell the icon at a fair price. Our professional experts with years of practical experience will determine your icon’s age and market value, consult you on the appropriate storage or restoration measures, and provide any further assistance with the icon’s sale.