Artistic Heritage of Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra

Heorhii Popov’s altar painting “Transfer of the body of Christ to the tomb”

in the Church of Sts. Anthony and Theodosius of Pechersk

(in commemoration of the 970th anniversary of the first Сhronicle about Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra)

Dear friends!

We continue acquainting you with the artworks in the Church of Sts. Anthony and Theodosius of Pechersk in Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra.

Today’s release of our “Artistic Heritage” column is dedicated to the altar painting “Transfer of the body of Christ to the tomb” created by artist Heorhii Popov and located in the Church of Sts. Anthony and Theodosius of Pechersk (Refectory).

In this altarpiece Heorhii Popov shows the level of artistic techniques that he has taken over from his mentor, V.P. Vereshchagin, “metr” of religious painting. Lavra’s artist leans on Vereshchagin’s artworks, which the latter created for the Moscow Church of Christ the Savior, and his painting named “Night on Calvary”. There Vereshchagin outplayed the course of the procession, descending from the mountain and rounding it.

In his composition, H. Popov displayed the impulse of circular motion as the final moment of the procession: coming from behind the corner and going down the stairs, people have already stepped on the threshold of the crypt. That is why, H. Popov captured only the last minute of the funeral procession. In general, the dynamics of circular motion in the Lavra’s variant of “Transfer of the Body of Christ” artwork is shown much more clearly, comparing to Vereshchagin’s painting. In addition, rhythmic and decorative compositions of the work visually intensify its semantic content. We see it in the semicircular line in the picture frame, which corresponds to Art Nouveau stylistic tastes and in the an arched cut in the church altar wall, above which one can observe the main scene of the painting.

A special feature of Popov’s individual style of painting is his passion for flowers that he depicts in the foreground of his work (a tradition derived from the Italian painting of the Quattrocento era). Another feature is his most accurate and true interpretation of the clothes and accessories of the era. The “leader” of the ethnographic direction in the art of painting at that time was, of course, Valentyn Polenov. For the church artist of the late 19th - early 20th centuries his paintings devoted to the Gospel theme were a kind of encyclopedia.

Caption to the illustration:

1. H.I. Popov “Transfer of the body of Christ to the tomb”. Painting of the Church of Sts. Anthony and Theodosius of Pechersk, early 20th century.


The text was prepared by Olena Pitateleva, the senior research worker

Research Division for the study of the artistic heritage of the National Kyiv-Pechersk Historical and Cultural Preserve



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