Monumental oil-based paintings of the 18th-19th centuries are being opened in St. Sophia of Kyiv

Monumental oil-based paintings of the 18th-19th centuries are being opened in St. Sophia of Kyiv

At present, restoration works are underway in St. Sophia Cathedral of the National Conservation Area “St. Sophia of Kyiv”, where masters open monumental compositions of oil paintings of the 18th-19th centuries, located on the vaults of the central nave of the cathedral.

In 1956, this painting was closed with solid layers of neutral tone paint and was forgotten. It is sketched because it is not related to the original mural decoration of the cathedral, both style and technique are different from the frescoes of the XI century.

These unjustly forgotten paintings are worthy of attention: both as part of the history of the Sophia of Kyiv murals and as monuments of Ukrainian fine art. They significantly complement the data on the mural program of the cathedral of the eighteenth century.

This painting was made on a new ground in places of loss of frescoes in large areas. They were incorrectly attributed by Soviet restorers, given incorrect names.

Researchers of the Reserve researched, reconstructed and published the “hidden painting” of Sophia of Kyiv long before it was opened.

These images, which are now coming back from oblivion, substantially complement the picture of the mural ensemble of Sophia of the eighteenth century: despite later updates, they retain plots of compositions performed at the beginning of the eighteenth century.

In particular, at the western arch of the central nave in the zenith, the image of Christ the Great Bishop, standing in clouds on a golden background and blessing with both hands, has been partially revealed. Near the clouds are heads of angels.

Below, on the northern slope of this vault, are two compositions (one above the other), depicting cathedrals of saints. On the southern slope, the upper composition was preserved – the image of one of the Cathedrals of the Saints, the lower one (the Cathedral of the Reverend) was lost (at the time of the restoration works the soil and paint layer were in very poor condition). Above the upper “Cathedrals of the Saints”, located directly below the image of Christ the Great Bishop (on either side of him, on the slopes), there are inscriptions. On the north slope we read:

, on the south slope:

Recognizing that there is some discord between fresco paintings and late oil compositions, one cannot deny the importance of the latter, since it is clear that they are of considerable interest to researchers and all those interested in the history of icon painting and monumental art. These are pages of millennial history.

Nadiya Nikitenko,

Anatoly Ostapchuk,

Tamara Rysnaya