Pavlova, Anna Leonidovna — Ph. D., chief of a section. The Research Institute of Theory and History of Fine Arts of the Russian Academy of Arts, Prechistenka ul., 21, 119034 Moscow, Russian Federation; senior researcher, State Institute of Art Studies, Koziskii per., 5, 125009 Moscow, Russian Federation.
The importance of various 17th‑18th-century European Bibles known as “Theatrum Biblicum”, i.e. albums of engravings on Biblical subjects, as a source providing patterns for church wall-painting in the 17th‑19th century is widely known. However, it is equally interesting important to study which features of the wall-painting go beyond the engraved prototypes. The main differences between the prototypes and the paintings are evident in details. The most important among them are holy faces that never reproduce the engravings exactly. So, the way the holy faces were painted was one of the most distinguishable features of different schools, artels or masters.
At the same time the holy faces in the most significant samples of monumental art demonstrated the brightest and the most independent creative achievements. It is precisely to these monuments that the wall paintingsof the Epiphany church at the village of Yes’ky, Bezhetsky district, Tver region belong. All the peculiarities typical of the Tver classicism as a whole are well evident here. The greatest importance of the Yes’ky village wall-paintings (1843–1847) lies in the specific interpretation of traditional academic canons and this is especially evident in the recognizable saints’ faces. The composition was painted after the Bible engraving patterns by Christoph Weigel (1695), Philipp Andreas Kilian (1758) and others and the holy faces in the paintings evidently demonstrate the artistic methods of the regional classicism. The holy faces make the Yes’ki paintings indeed unique no matter that the subjects follow the patterns of well-known engravings. The comparison of engravings and paintings allows us to deeply understand the essence of the regional painters’artistic devices and to see their outstanding craftsmanship.
The holy faces are painted in the conventional style characteristic for a glue paint technique: the brush’s sweeping motions are not concealed, the palette of colours is limited, the high finish does not produce an overillusionistic effect. The holy faces’ features are deprived of idealization typical for academic manner.Instead they are provided with bright distinctive peculiarities like exaggeratedly big eyes and fleshy noseswith wide nasal bridges, sunken cheeks and obvious nasolabial folds. The images lack emotionality but are endowed with grandeur, unusual expressiveness and intrinsic strain.
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