The History of Russian Art

The history of Russian art can be categorized into two distinct periods with the reforms of Peter the great marking the border between them. This separation is very profound and deals with the basics of artistic perception of reality. For a better understanding of the history of Russian art, the following periods and styles that make up the history of art in Russia will be briefly x-rayed.

Icon Painting

Iconic painting of Old Russia came into light and was nurtured in close connection with icon venerating that is based on the precepts of God’s incarnation. The very first iconic symbol in the Christian tradition was an image of Jesus. This image was obtained miraculously in his lifetime. It is referred to as the “Holy Face”, the “Icon of Christ Not Made by Hand” or the “Veronica’s Veil” this description are based on the legends behind its creation. From here the icon paintings which was is a characteristic symbol of the Russian art started off.

Theophanes The Greek

One remarkable artist that is very important to the history of Russian art is Theophanes the Greek. He is known for his great influence on the Russian art from the basics. With his outstanding paintings, he painted the history of the Russian art. His style- passionate, austere, wise, dramatic, and tragic expressions left an indelible impression on his contemporaries. Only a few of his works of art are still available today and they can be seen in Moscow’s Cathedral of the Annunciation.

Andrey Rublev

This is another creative master that played a great role in laying the basis of mature Moscow icon painting. He was tutored by Theophanes and inherited his beautiful use of colours and pure form, but he was lyrically gifted and developed his own dramatic and sombre distinctive images that he is renowned for.

Western Influence

The western world started influencing the Russian icon paintings from the mid-16th century and the icon painting began to mix with the European pictorial art. During the late 16th to early 17th centuries, the development of the Stroganov school which was made up mainly by tsar’s court masters kicked off and became unique for its finesse of palette, elaborate attention for details and a strong tendency for “beautified paintings”.


The 18th– early 19th centuries saw the Russian pictorial art which was driven by cultural demands of the people mix with all the big stages of western art. This started off with foreign painters and sculptors being invited to Russia, since they’re the pictorial art mixed up with the baroque, romanticism and classic styles.

National Theme

During the 1860s-1870s, a wave of social aspiration gives rise to artists’ interests in folklife. The foundation of association of traveling exhibitions countered the academy of fine arts and gave rise to artists that resorted to adding exposal character to their work.


The notable birth of the Russian avant-garde which aimed at transfiguring the basics of art up till the negation of art occurred in 1910. This sure the rise of a new range of artists that created their own trends and schools that served as the basis for the development of modern art today. Some of these artists are V. Kandinsky who is known for abstractionism, K. Malevich who is known for improvisational style and Larionov, who is famous for Rayonism.