CHEST PAINTING

This example of the “Novonikitskaya” Marian icon type was painted in 1678 by “Feodot Feofanov, son of Protopopov.”

As you can see, it is very much in the new “Western” style that became popular with the State Russian Orthodox Church in the latter part of the 1600s, after the schism with the Old Believers.

The Novonikitskaya type has a rather unbelievable (a lot of them are, in part or in whole) origin story that ascribes its “appearance” to the 4th century, when supposedly it came about as the result of a dream had by the martyr saint Nikita “the Goth.”  Yes, this is the same St. Nikita who appears in painted and cast metal icons beating the devil.

Supposedly — even before he was baptized a Christian — Nikita had a dream in which he saw a youth holding a cross.  He could not figure out what the dream meant, but a Christian girl named Juliania, inspired by God, told him to look at his own chest.  When he did so, he found there an image of Mary holding her child Jesus, who held a cross.  Nikita recognized it as what he had seen in his dream, and so was baptized and eventually martyred.

Here is an old paper icon painters’ pattern for the Novonikitskaya icon type:

(State Historical Museum, Moscow)

As you can see, it has letters abbreviating the colors to be used — K for kinovar (red), З for zelen (green), etc.  And of course it is a reversed image, as such patterns commonly were.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.