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Icons

ICONS

Icons are representations, usually on wood, of sacred figuresChrist and the Virgin Mary, the apostles, saints, and miraculous events. The Greek term eikon (Russian, obraz ) denotes "semblance," indicating that the icon does not incarnate but only represents sacred objects. As such it serves to facilitate spiritual communion with the sacred; the distinctive two-dimensional flatness symbolizes an immateriality and hence proximity to the otherworldly. In rare cases this mediating role reaches miraculous proportions when the faithful believe that a "miracle-working" (chudotvornaya ) icon has interceded to save them from harm, such as the depredations of war and disease.

The evolution of icons in Russia paralleled the development of Eastern Orthodoxy itself. Initially, after Grand Prince Vladimir embraced Eastern Orthodoxy in 988, icons were produced by Greek masters in Byzantium; few in number, they were restricted to the urban elites that actually practiced the new faith. The most venerated icon in Russia, the "Vladimir Mother of God," was actually a twelfth-century Greek icon imported from Constantinople. Revered for its representation of the Virgin's tender relationship to Christ, it became the model of the umilenie (tenderness) style that dominated Marian representation in most Russian iconography.

The Crusades from the West and the Mongol invasion from the East suddenly disrupted the Byzantine predominance in the mid-thirteenth century. The new indigenous icons showed a marked tendency toward not only simplification but also regionalization. As Kiev Rus dissolved into separate principalities under Mongol suzerainty, icon-painting acquired distinctive styles in Vladimir-Suzdal, Novgorod, Pskov, Yaroslavl-Rostov, Tver, and Moscow. Some icons also bore a distinctive local theme, such as the "Battle between the Novgorodians and Suzdalians," a mid-fifteenth century icon with unmistakable overtones for Novgorod's life-and-death struggle with Moscow.

The evolution of icon painting also derived from external influences. One phase began with the resumption of ties to Byzantium in the mid-fourteenth century and culminated in the icons and frescoes of Theophanes the Greek (c. 1340after 1405). His indigenous co-workers included the most venerated Russian icon-painter, Andrei Rublev (c. 13601430), whose extant creations include the celebrated "Trinity" icon. A second phase came in the late fifteenth century, when Italian masters imported to construct an awe-inspiring Kremlinhelped introduce some Western features (for example, the clothing and gestures of the Virgin). That was but a foreshadowing of the far greater Western influence in the seventeenth century, when the official icon-painting studios in the Kremlin Armory (under Simon Ushakov, 16261686) used Western paints and techniques to produce more naturalistic, monumental icons. Such innovations elicited sharp criticism from traditionalists such as Archpriest Avvakum, but they heralded tendencies ever more pronounced in Imperial Russia.

Even as Moscow developed an official style, the production of icons for popular consumption became much more widespread. The Church Council of 1551 complained about the inferior quality of such images and admonished painters not to "follow their own fancy" but to emulate the ancient icons of "the Greek icon-painters, Andrei Rublev, and other famous painters." That appeal did nothing to stem the brisk production of popular icons, with some small towns (e.g., Palekh, Kholuy, Shuya, and Mstera) gaining particular renown. Popular icons were not only simpler (indulging fewer details and fewer colors), but also incorporated folkish elements alien to both traditional Byzantine and newer official styles. Although authorities sought to suppress such icons (e.g., a 1668 edict restricting the craft to certified icon-painters), such decrees had scant effect.

Indeed, both popular and elite icon-painting continued to coexist in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Popular icons flourished and proliferated; while some centers (such as the specialized producers in Vladimir province) exhibited artistic professionalization, the expanding production of amateur icons aroused the concern of both Church and state. But attempts to regulate the craft (e.g., decrees of 1707 and 1759) did little to restrict production or to dampen demand. A far greater threat eventually came from commercializationthe manufacture of brightly colored, cheap lithographs that pushed artisanal icons from the marketplace in the late nineteenth century. Seeking to protect popular icon painting, Nicholas II established a Committee for the Stewardship of Russian Icon Painting in 1901, which proposed a broad set of measures, such as the establishment of icon-painting schools to train craftsmen and to promote their work through special exhibitions.

Icon production for elites took a quite different path. After Peter the Great closed the icon-painting studio of the Armory in 1711, its masters scattered to cities throughout the realm to ply their trade. By the late eighteenth century, however, the Academy of Arts became the main source of icons for the major cathedrals and elites. By the mid-nineteenth century the Academy had not only developed a distinct style (increasingly naturalistic and realistic) but also significantly expanded its formal instruction in icon painting, including the establishment of a separate icon-painting class in 1856.

At the same time, believers and art connoisseurs showed a growing taste for ancient icons. By mid-century this interest began to inspire forgeries as well as orders for icons in the old style. The meaning of that old style underwent a revolutionary change in the early twentieth century: As art restorers peeled away the layers of paint and varnish applied in later times, they were astonished to discover that the ancient icons were not dark and somber, but bright and clear. The All-Russian Congress of Artists in 1911 held the first exhibition of restored icons; the new Soviet regime would devote much attention to the process of restoration.

While placing a high priority on icon restoration, the Soviet regime repressed production of new icons: It closed traditional ecclesiastical producers (above all, monasteries), and redirected popular centers of icon production such as Palekh to specialize in secular folk art. Although Church workshops continued to produce icons (by the early 1980s more than three million per yearan important source of revenue), not until 1982 did the Church establish an elite patriarchal icon-painting studio. The subsequent breakup of the Soviet Union not only generated a sharp surge in demand (from believers and reopened churches), but enabled the Church to establish a network of icon-painting schools specifically devoted to the revival of traditional iconography.

See also: academy of arts; byzantium, influence of; dionisy; orthodoxy; palekh painting; rublev, andrei; theophanes the greek; ushakov, simon fedorovich

bibliography

Onasch, Konrad, and Schneiper, Annemarie. (1995). Icons: The Fascination and the Reality. New York: Riverside Book Company.

Ouspensky, Leonid, and Lossky, Vladimir. (1982). The Meaning of Icons, 2nd. ed. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press.

Gregory L. Freeze

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"Icons." Encyclopedia of Russian History. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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icon

icon [Gr. eikon=image], single image created as a focal point of religious veneration, especially a painted or carved portable object of the Orthodox Eastern faith. Icons commonly represent Christ Pantocrator, the Virgin as Queen of the Heavens, or, less frequently, the saints; since the 6th cent. they have been considered an aid to the devotee in making his prayers heard by the holy figure represented in the icon. The icon grew out of the mosaic and fresco tradition of early Byzantine art (see Byzantine art and architecture). It was used to decorate the wall and floor surfaces of churches, baptisteries, and sepulchers, and later was carried on standards in time of war and in religious processions. Although the art form was in common use by the end of the 5th cent., early monuments have been lost, largely because of their destruction during the iconoclastic controversy (726–843; see iconoclasm). Little has survived that was created before the 10th cent. Byzantine icons were produced in great numbers until 1453, when Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Empire. The practice was transplanted to Russia, where icons were made until the Revolution (see Russian art and architecture). The anonymous artists of the Orthodox Eastern faith were concerned not with the conquest of space and movement as seen in the development of Western painting but instead with the portrayal of the symbolic or mystical aspects of the divine being. The stiff and conventionalized appearance of icons may bear some relationship to the two-dimensional, ornamental quality of the Eastern tradition. It is this effect more than any other that causes the icons in Byzantine and later in Russian and Greek Orthodox art to appear unchanging through the centuries; there is, however, a stylistic evolution in Byzanto-Russian art that can be seen through variations of a standard theme by local schools rather than through the development of an art style by periods. The term icon came to mean "subject matter" in the 19th-century German school of art historical study, and from this meaning were derived the terms iconography and iconology.

See A. Schröder, Introduction to Icons (tr. 1967); K. Weitzmann et al., ed., A Treasure of Icons (tr. 1968); H. Skrobucha, The World of Icons (tr. 1971); D. and T. T. Rice, Icons and Their History (1974).

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Icon

Icon (Gk., eikon, ‘image’ or ‘picture’). Sacred pictures of the Orthodox tradition. They are usually flat pictures, and painted in egg tempera on wood; but metal, ivory, and other materials may be used, and bas-relief and even high-relief icons are known, especially in Russia. They are used to decorate churches, where they are found on walls, ceilings, and stands (the iconostasis separating the sanctuary from the nave being particularly prominent), and portable icons are used in private devotions. They depict Christ, and the saints and mysteries of the Church. The symbolism of the icon is held to effect the presence of the saint or mystery depicted, and in that presence prayer and devotion are made. The painting (or ‘writing’) of the icon is itself a religious act, prepared for by prayer and fasting, and was usually reserved for monks: such was Andrei Rublev (c.1370–c.1430), the greatest of all icon-painters. Suspicion of icons as idols led to iconoclasm.

The word ‘icon’ also appears as a technical term in semiotics, with a transferred use: see SYMBOLS.

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icon

icon a painting of Christ or another holy figure, typically in a traditional style on wood, venerated and used as an aid to devotion in the Byzantine and other Eastern Churches. In transferred usage, a person or thing regarded as a representative symbol or as worthy of veneration.

In computing, an icon is a symbol or graphic representation on a VDU screen of a program, option, or window, especially one of several for selection.

The word is recorded from the mid 16th century in the sense ‘simile’ and from the late 16th century in the sense ‘likeness, image’ (see Eikon Basilike); it comes via Latin from Greek eikōn ‘likeness, image’. Current senses date from the mid 19th century onwards.

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icon

i·con / ˈīˌkän/ • n. a painting of Jesus Christ or another holy figure, typically in a traditional style on wood, venerated and used as an aid to devotion in the Byzantine and other Eastern Churches. ∎  a person or thing regarded as a representative symbol of something: this iron-jawed icon of American manhood. ∎  Comput. a symbol or graphic representation on a video display terminal of a program, option, or window, esp. one of several for selection. ∎  Linguistics a sign whose form directly reflects the thing it signifies, for example, the word snarl pronounced in a snarling way.

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icon

icon, ikon †image, picture XVI; (Eastern Church) representation in the flat of a sacred personage XIX. — L. īcōn — Gr. eikṓn likeness, image, f. *ḗik- be like. comb. form icono- in iconoclast XVII. — modL. īconoclastēs — Gr. eikonoklástēs (klân break); so iconoclastic XVII. iconography †drawing, plan; illustration by means of drawings. XVII. — medL. — Gr. iconostasis screen bearing icons. XIX. — ecclL. — ecclGr. eikonóstasis (stásis position, station, f. *sta- STAND).

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Iconostasis

Iconostasis or Eikonostasion (Gk., ‘a picture stand’). The screen in Eastern-rite churches separating sanctuary from nave. Since the 14th or 15th cents. the screen has been a wall of wood (a Russian innovation) or stone covered with icons, which follow a prescribed arrangement. Through it are three doors, the central or Royal Door admitting to the altar, and those on the right and left respectively to the diakonicon (deacon's area) and prothesis. The iconostasis conceals part of the liturgy from the view of the congregation.

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icon

icon Religious painting or sculpture, often of Christ, the Virgin and Child or individual saints. The term is particularly used of Byzantine pictures and later Russian imitations. Icons were were produced as early as the 5th century and have been used as an aid to prayer from the 6th century. In the Eastern Christian Church the veneration of icons was banned (726–843).

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icon

icon A small image displayed on screen, relating to a particular function, and acting as a visual mnemonic to the user. Window managers often use icons to represent devices, wastebaskets, etc. Some window systems use icons to represent another view of a window.

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ICON

ICON A programming language developed as a successor to SNOBOL. ICON is a general-purpose programming language in the style of Pascal, but includes many features for processing strings of characters and other non-numerical data. ICON's main use is in research in humanities computing, and in teaching computing to students of the humanities.

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iconostasis

iconostasis. In the Greek and Russian Orthodox churches, a screen between the sanctuary and the body of the church, with three doorways. It is often hung with icons and other images, hence its name.

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Icons

Icons: see ICON.

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icon

icon •radon • Chalcedon • Proudhon •Mogadon • pteranodon • iguanodon •mastodon • chiffon • Ctesiphon •bouffant • balafon • Xenophon •Bellerophon •argon, Sargon •Dagon • woebegone • bygone •doggone, logon •dodecagon • Dijon • demijohn • ancon •archon • racon • Comecon • emoticon •stereopticon • icon • walk-on • neocon •Yukon • zircon • salon • Fablon •decathlon • Teflon • Dralon • Simplon •Babylon • papillon • propylon •epsilon • nylon • Orlon •eidolon, roll-on, Solon •mouflon • Ascalon • Ashqelon •echelon • Avalon •gnomon, Jomon

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iconostasis

iconostasisglacis, Onassis •abscess •anaphylaxis, axis, praxis, taxis •Chalcis • Jancis • synapsis • catharsis •Frances, Francis •thesis • Alexis • amanuensis •prolepsis, sepsis, syllepsis •basis, oasis, stasis •amniocentesis, anamnesis, ascesis, catechesis, exegesis, mimesis, prosthesis, psychokinesis, telekinesis •ellipsis, paralipsis •Lachesis •analysis, catalysis, dialysis, paralysis, psychoanalysis •electrolysis • nemesis •genesis, parthenogenesis, pathogenesis •diaeresis (US dieresis) • metathesis •parenthesis •photosynthesis, synthesis •hypothesis, prothesis •crisis, Isis •proboscis • synopsis •apotheosis, chlorosis, cirrhosis, diagnosis, halitosis, hypnosis, kenosis, meiosis, metempsychosis, misdiagnosis, mononucleosis, myxomatosis, necrosis, neurosis, osmosis, osteoporosis, prognosis, psittacosis, psychosis, sclerosis, symbiosis, thrombosis, toxoplasmosis, trichinosis, tuberculosis •archdiocese, diocese, elephantiasis, psoriasis •anabasis • apodosis •emphasis, underemphasis •anamorphosis, metamorphosis •periphrasis • entasis • protasis •hypostasis, iconostasis

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