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Ten Facts about Andrei Rublev

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Ten Facts about Andrei Rublev


The Venerable Andrei Rublev

On July 17 the Russian Orthodox Church celebrates the Feast Day of Andrei Rublev. It is not known exactly when and where the renowned icon painter was born. And in general we are rather short on facts about his life. We do not even know Rublev’s common name – the name Andrei was assumed when he was tonsured as a monk at the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius under Nikon of Radonezh. It is general believed that he was born in the late 1370s either in the Principality of Moscow or in Novgorod.

The life of Andrei Rublev is closely tied to two monasteries: the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius and Andronikov Monastery in Moscow. Rublev’s work represents a continuation of the traditions of the Moscow school of iconography, but he was clearly acquainted with the traditions of Byzantium and the Southern Slavs.

The first mention of Rublev in the chronicles is in 1405 when he decorated icons and frescos for the Cathedral of the Annunciation of the Moscow Kremlin in company with Theophanes the Greek, which in and of itself indicates recognition of his mastery.

The chronicles then indicate that in 1408 Rublev, together with Daniil Cherni, painted the Assumption Cathedral in Vladimir. In the 1420s both of the masters worked on the Cathedral of St. Trinity in the Trinity Lavra.

Rublev died on October 17, 1428, in Moscow at the Andronikov Monastery, where in the spring of that year he had worked on painting the Cathedral of Our Savior. He is buried next to the monastery’s bell tower.

In 1988 the Russian Orthodox Church canonized Andrei Rublev.

Ten facts about Andrei Rublev

— Some researchers have concluded that the family name Rublev came from the word rubel, which is an instrument used for leather knurling, and they believe that this could indicate that his family was historically engaged in leather crafts.

— Andrei Rublev’s icon painting style was highly valued in antiquity and was considered a model for subsequent icon painters. According to the Saga of Holy Icon Painters (17th century), all of his works were considered to be wonder working and Andrei himself is referred to as a visionary.

— It is not known when Rublev was tonsured as a monk at the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius. It is possible that he met St. Sergius, who died in 1392.

— One of the early admirers and collectors of Rublev’s works was St. Joseph Volotsky.

— Rublev is also said to have engaged in the painting of miniatures for books. Certain Rublev researchers believe that the master created the miniatures for the so-called Khitrovo Gospels (circa 1400).

— Some have suggested that in the iconostasis of the Cathedral of the Annunciation of the Moscow Kremlin, among the icons which are attributed to Rublev, one bears a self-portrait in the persona of Judas Iscariot.

— In the 18th century Rublev’s painting had been practically forgotten, but continued to remember the master, collecting and imitating his icons.

— Despite the anti-religious pathos of Soviet culture, Andrei Rublev was not forgotten in the Soviet Union and his name was considered a symbol of ancient Russian culture. In 1960 UNESCO celebrated the 600th anniversary of the icon painter and in Moscow the Andrei Rublev Museum of Ancient Russian Culture and Art was opened.

— The Andrei Tarkovsky’s renowned film Andrei Rublev, which was released in 1966, was one of the most significant artistic events in Soviet culture during the 1960s.

— A crater on the planet Mercury is named in honor of Andrei Rublev.

Alexander Ryazantsev


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