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Russian Engraving Art and its Development, Part 1
March 15, 2015 19:06

The history of engraving art in Russia totals several centuries. It declared itself as an independent area of pictorial arts in the late 19th century. Until then transferring pictures into copper, zinc or wooden boards was used just for distributing painters’ works.
Engraving as such appeared in the 12th century. The earliest samples of Russian engraving date back to the mid 16th century. It was metal plate engraving and wood-cut printing. This type of art was called into existence thanks to development of book publishing, and the first prints were used for decorating church books.

At the behest of the tsar Ivan Fedorov published the book Apostle in Moscow in 1564; it was accompanied with the very first print depicting St. Luke the Evangelist.

Engraving art reached its heyday with the development of book publishing industry. The best experts of book industry and engravers moved to Moscow after reunion of Ukraine with Russia. Remarkable works of that era include the Antimension cut on a tin board by Joseph the Treasurer of the Znamensky Monastery in 1676, and wood-cuts for The Apocalypse by Priest Prokopy. Among the first Moscow engravers working in the Moscow Kremlin Armory there was Afanasy Trukhmensky and his pupils Vasily Andreyev, Leonti Bunin and the well-known imperial isograph Simeon Ushakov and the brothers Alexey and Ivan Zubovs.
In the second half of the 17th century the settlement of printers was built behind the Sretensky Gate in Moscow. Prints were traded near the Trinity Church, which came to be nicknamed Trinity in Prints afterwards. In the second half of the 18th century their manufacture was shifted to the factory of the merchant Akhmetyev in the Spasskaya Street. Along with engravings of religious contents the art of popular print (Lubok) was developed and soon was widely adopted among the Russian people.

The history of the Russian engraving started at the turn of the 17th and 18th centuries, when it became an independent art form, unlike the 17th century  xylographie, which was closely connected to book publishing.

The epoch of Peter the Great turned a new page in the history of the Russian art. Creation of new style in engraving was primarily dictated by practical needs of the state. From the beginning of the 18th century its role in public life of the country leaped. Being perfectly aware of educational and informative opportunities of this art form, Peter I set the new targets, which were determined by his reforms: the engraving was supposed to claim the achievement of Russia, glorify its military victories, and illustrate scientific books. Along with the new secular themes, which came to be of the state significance, the entire pictorial system was transformed.

Next: Russian Engraving Art and its Development, Part 2 

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Author: Vera Ivanova

Tags: Engraving Applied Arts Prints Lubok Arts and Crafts 

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