January 01, 2009

Iconic Controversy



The flames of conflict are being stoked once again between the Russian Orthodox Church and the art community. The Church asked the Tretyakov Gallery to loan it Andrei Rublyov’s iconic masterpiece The Trinity (right), for a religious service to be held in Sergiyev Posad. The Tretyakov has yet to agree.

The request was first made by Patriarch Alexy II in September 2008, and went largely unnoticed. The Patriarch sought to include the icon in the Church’s Trinity celebration at Trinity St. Sergius Lavra, the monastery. The request was widely reported here in late November, following a Tretyakov meeting to discuss the subject.

Museum specialists were horrified, saying the icon is an extremely fragile piece of wood riddled with cracks. Ancient Russian art specialist Gerold Vzdornov told Gazeta that the icon cannot be moved under any circumstances – the trip and several days of candle-lit services would be catastrophic for the 15th century masterpiece, he said, which is the only icon authenticated as wholly created by Rublyov.


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