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CNAA / Theses / 2004 / June /

The bessarabian icon of the XIX-th century

Author: Tudor Stavilă
Degree:doctor habilitat of history and Theory of Arts, Cultorology
Speciality: 17.00.04 - Visual Arts (with specification: Fine Art; Decorative Art; Applied Art)
Institution: Institute of History of Art of the ASM


The thesis was presented on the 2 June, 2004
Approved by NCAA on the 14 October, 2004


Adobe PDF document0.38 Mb / in romanian


icon, the XIX century, Bassarabia, history, house painter, iconostasy, church, monastery, workshop of painter, iconology, iconography, engraving of woodcut, influences, stylistics influences, collaborator of museum, fine arts


The bessarabian icon of the XIX-th century represents one of the most interesting artistic phenomenona of the Christian Orthodox medium, with its distinct specific features, which have been developed in a specific environment of iconography in the previous centuries.

Being constituted in a late phase of the Middle Ages when the icon is in a general decline in other regions, the creations (works) of Bessarabia, as a component part of the patrimony of medieval Moldova, have an unexpected leap in their evolution.

But this apogee hadn’t been reached because of the existence of an integral well- outlined process of the common cultural milieu.

The museum collections of icons, which have been constituted in Moldova after the 70’s and have been collected in the closed or destroyed monasteries and churches, represent a non-homogenous and insufficient studied material, which reflects in an unequal way the development of the bessarabian icon in the XYI – XIX centuries. The most valuable collection is that of the National Museum of Fine Arts, in which works of different epoch have been hoarded during 40 years and which, for the time being, is also the most complete collection of the bessarabian icons of the XIX-th century.

Exactly out of these considerations the icon evolution of this period was studied more profound, which along with the continuation of the traditions of the previous centuries, reflects as well the new interference and the new influences, approaching them to the art of academic type painters.

It is worth mentioning that the bessarabian icon of the XIX-th century has developed on the permanent background of the Russian-Turkish wars which plaid as well their determinative role in the late finalization of the bessarabian Middle Age.

The general support of the bessarabian icon was formed by the popular icon, the monastery one, as well as by the icons painted by fine arts artists, who made their appearance in the middle of the XIX-th century, dominating the religious art by the beginning of the XX-th century. The above mentioned tendencies didn’t manifest themselves simultaneously, haven’t been limited chronologically by certain intervals of time. They lived together, superposing, carrying inside the stamps of the most diverse methods of fine arts and stylistic influences. Their existence is demonstrated by the expression of the form and volume, taken over from the Western art, by Renaissance, baroque or classicist elements, on the one hand, and by the strong influence exercised over the woodcut icon of the Monastery Three Hierarches from Iasi and Monastery Neamt, on the other hand.

The invoked interference is sensed both in the creation of the popular house painters and in the medium of the monasteries ones, like Gherasim, Ioan Iavorschi, Iezechil and Ioasaf, whose works have marked the evolution of the bessarabian icon during the XX-th century.

At the same time, beginning with the second half of the century, the positions held by house painters are being taken over by artists with special studies, who treat the icon art as a specific field of the paintings of the kind. In this context the works of V. Aleksandrov, P. Piskaryov, F. Maleavin, P. Shilingovski and others complete the belated epoch of medieval art and mark the beginnings of modern art.