Moscow Kremlin Museums, Russia
Cenobitic monasticism develops in the medieval Russia from the 14th century. Attention to the images of the monks appears in the Russian art in the second half of the 14th — first half of the 15th century (monastic scenes on the icon of St. Nicolas with his vita, from Nicolo-Ugreshskiy monastery, late 14th century (State Tretiakov Gallery), scene “Miracle of Archangel Michael at Chonae” on the icon of Archangel Michael with acts, about 1399 (Moscow Kremlin Museums), monastic scenes in wall paintings on the pillars in the Dormition cathedral, about 1400, and on the sanctuary screen in the Nativity of the Virgin church of Savvino-Storozhevskiy monastery, 1420s, both in Zvenigorod). Image of the holy monk is especially deep and touching in St. Sergius of Radonezh tomb pall, 1420s (Sergiev Posad museum-reserve).
In the mid-15th century, the vita cyclus of St. Sergius of Radonezh appears in the wall paintings of St. Sergius church (1459 or 1463) in Novgorod. The monastery in it looks like Jerusalem in the illustrations of New Testament.
Monastic subjects spread widely in the late 15th and in the early 16th century, already in the post-Byzantine period. One should mention figures of monks on the sanctuary screen in Dormition cathedral of Moscow Kremlin, 1480s. In this period, idealized images of the monasteries appear in the vitae scenes in icons of the Russian saints, monks and first Russian metropolitans.
In the 16th century, monastic subjects are represented with “Heavenly Ladder”, “Vision of Eulogius”, “Miracle with gold in the monastery of Dochiar”. Some of the monasteries are represented
as architectural ensembles (St. Catherine monastery, Sinai; Savvatiev Orshinskiy; Solovki and Alexandro-Svirskiy). They find parallels in the post-Byzantine painting as well. Among the Russian works depicting monasteries, two varieties can be distinguished: a) icons with scenes of monastic life; b) icons with views of the monasteries’ architectural ensemble. The first group finds analogies in Byzantine and post-Byzantine art, in the scenes of death of holy monks. Icons with architectural views have some features of pilgrim icons with images of the Holy Land with places of veneration.
Such a variety of subjects and iconographical types of the monastic theme depicted in the Russian art is a consequence of the special role the monasteries played in Russian medieval culture.