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An Expressionist Painter of the Fourteenth Century

Journal: Open Journal for Studies in Arts (Vol.4, No. 2)

Publication Date:

Authors : ;

Page : 47-62

Keywords : icon painting; Greek icon painting; Orthodox Christianity; Hesychasm; Palaeologan Renaissance; Byzantine artists; liturgical art; fresco painting; Theophanes the Greek;

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Theophanes the Greek was one of the well-known artists of exceptional personality who lived in the second half of the 14th century. His talent stood out on account of the expressionist manner in which he portrayed his art creations and their impact on the school of Russian religious painting. His artistic talent, “swift brush” painting manner and life adventure can be compared with those of Doménikos Theotokópoulos (El Greco), another famous Greek painter, who brought the Cretan dramatic and expressionistic style to the West, influencing the Spanish Renaissance two hundred years after Theophanes. The artistic heritage of Theophanes stands between the short vibrant period of the Palaeologan Renaissance when the Byzantine Empire went through a terminal crisis, and the European Proto-Italian Renaissance. The artist seized the opportunity to unleash his creative work in the ancient Russian cities, unfolding his talent in the creation of large mural paintings. Characterized by his contemporaries as “Theophanes the Greek, icon painter and philosopher”, he enjoyed a high reputation in medieval Russian society. Present article questions Theophanes' belonging to the hesychast movement and the attribution of the Muscovite icons and manuscripts to the painter. Considering the impact of Theophanes on Russian visual art, D. Talbot Rice stated: “It was thanks to the teaching of Greek immigrants like Theophanes that a sound foundation was established Russian painting, and it was on this basis that local styles were founded.” And it was in the Russian principalities that Theophanes developed his very distinctive style, enjoying carte blanche from the princes and boyars (aristocracy) to apply his creativity in various domains.

Last modified: 2023-01-07 19:53:05