Russian Arts and Architecture During the 15th-17th Centuries

The 15th century

The rise of Moscow, which united the Russian lands around it, determined its formation during the 14th century. of a local pictorial and architectural culture. In the surroundings of the city there remain buildings from the end of the 14th and the beginning of the 15th century, which continue the architectural tradition of Vladimir-Suzdal´ (Zvenigorod Cathedral, Trinity Cathedral in the St. Sergius Monastery in Sergiev). In the last quarter of the 15th century. building activity developed intensively. Russian and Italian architects erected churches, palaces and fortifications of the Kremlin: A. Fieravanti he designed the Cathedral of the Dormition, merging the tradition of Russian architecture with the spatial conception of the Italian Renaissance. The Annunciation Cathedral, with small spaces surrounded by a vast gallery and multiple domes, continues the typically Russian tradition. M. Ruffo and P. Solari brought to the Kremlin (Granovitaja Palata) features of the late Gothic and early Renaissance. In the external decoration of the Cathedral of the Archangels, by Aloisio Nuovo, typically Renaissance motifs were used, although the plant and general structure remained those of the Russian tradition. The five-domed church became the most widespread in 15th and 16th century architecture. ● The flowering of painting was also linked to Moscow and the Kremlin, for the decoration of which the best artists of the time worked. In the Cathedral of the Annunciation, next to Theophanes the Greek worked A. Rublëv, a great painter of the period. The art of Dionysius, another great painter of the 15th century, and his school, stands out for its delicacy and elegance, bright and pure colors.

The 16th century

The taste for sumptuous decoration grew during the 16th century. In the architecture of churches, the transition from the upper parts of the facades to the drum was usually covered with kokošniki, small decorative ogival arches (S. Trifone and Concezione di S. Anna in Moscow). Large five-domed cathedrals were built (in the Novodevichy and Donskoy monasteries in Moscow), fortified monasteries were erected and expanded. Many 16th century wooden churches. in the north of the Russia they have a pyramid roof; the taste for more elongated proportions reached its highest achievement in the Church of the Ascension (1530-32) of Kolomenskoye in Moscow. S. Basilio (1555-60, erected in Moscow by the Russian architects Barma and Posnik) is covered with a multiplicity of domes and pyramids, all with decorative elements, almost fairytale-like. Some private houses from the 16th century. they remain in Moscow, Pskov, Kaluga, Yaroslavl´. ● A narrative tendency develops in painting; scenes from the lives of the saints acquire new details, with motifs from real life (frescoes and four-compartment icon in the Cathedral of the Annunciation in the Moscow Kremlin; icon with the militant Church in the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow). The 16th century saw the flowering of miniature, book decoration, woodcut, embroidery and goldsmithing.

The 17th century

In the 17th century. the decoration of the churches became richer and heavier, the facades were covered with adorned white stone or brick claddings (from the capital to Yaroslavl, to Rostov, in Kargopol´, in Nizhny Novgorod). A type of richly decorated small church spread, always with five (or sometimes with three) domes and a pyramidal-roofed bell tower, joined to the church by a passage (Moscow: Churches of the Trinity in Nikitniki, of the Nativity of the Virgin in Putinki, of St. Nicholas in Chamovniki). In the decoration of churches and palaces the alternation of stone carvings with majolica was often used (in Yaroslavl´ and Uglič, Krutitsky Teremok in Moscow). Towards the end of the century, in the ‘Russian Baroque’ or ‘Naryshkin Baroque’ the decoration of the churches was enriched with Western elements reworked by Russian masters with decorative taste (Moscow, Church of the Resurrection in Kadaši, churches in Fili, Ubory, Troickoe-Lykovo, in Dubrovicy; bell tower of the Novodevichy monastery, etc.). Pyramid shapes and slender proportions spread; the towers of the Moscow Kremlin received pyramid tops during the 17th century. ● In seventeenth-century painting the growing Western influence combined with traditional taste (secular elements, religious subjects depicted as real-life scenes). The frescoes covered walls and vaults like a polychrome carpet (Cathedral of the Archangels, Trinity Church in Nikitniki, Moscow). The icons of the said school Stroganov (from its major clients) are characterized by the meticulous finishing of the details and by the abundance of gilding and decorative elements. The painter S. Ušakov was also one of the first copper engravers: his engravings reveal the knowledge of Western models and the study of nature. Numerous wooden sculptures, intended for the decoration of churches and palaces. In sculpture, too, Western influence was increasingly considerable (reliefs in the church of Dubrovicy, near Moscow, late 17th century, made by masters from northern Italy). The decorative art of the 17th century. it stands out for the abundance of ornamentation, for the skillful application of the different techniques of gold, silver and enamel processing, for the use of precious stones. The ceramic works are also noteworthy (majolica tiles decorated the walls of churches, palaces, stoves).

Russian Arts and Architecture During the 15th-17th Centuries