Tarasov O. Icon and Devotion. Sacred Spaces in Imperial Russia. London, 2002.

Oleg Tarasov. Icon and Devotion. Sacred Spaces in Imperial Russia. Translated and edited by Robin Milner-Gulland. London, Reaktion Books, 2002, 416 pp., ill.

Icon and Devotion is the first historical survey in English of the making and meaning of Russian icons. The craft of icon-making is set into the context of forms of worship that emerged in the Russian Orthodox Church in the mid-17th century. Oleg Tarasov shows how icons have held a special place of “Holy Russia”. He also looks closely at a range of issues, from the sacred meanings of icons to how and why they were made. Wonder-working saints and the schismatic Old Believers appear in these pages, which are copiously illustrated with paintings, many of which have never before been published in the English-speaking world. By tracing the artistic vocabulary, techniques and working methods of icon painters in the last 400 years, Tarasov shows how icons have been integral to the history of Russian art, influenced by folk traditions and Western European currents alike. This book will interest not only specialists in icons and the history of Russian art but everyone with a general interest in Russian history and culture.


Foreword by Robin Milner-Gulland 


Part One: The Icon and the World 

1 Venerated Image: The Sacred in the Everyday
The Burden of Numbers,  – The Details of Ritual,  – Miracles, 

2 Dispute about Signs, Dispute about Faith 

The Ambivalence of Symbols,  – The Complications of Renaming: A Tract Concerning the New Devotion

3 In a World without Grace 

The Shadow of Antichrist, – The Sacralization of the Icon Painter, – The Theology of the People, 

Part Two: The Icon and Popular Culture 

4 East and West 
Face and Countenance,  – Landscape,  – Word, Emblem, Heraldry, – The Portrait Icon

5 The Middle Ages Delayed 
Concealed Montage, – Myth and Mystification: Self-awareness in the Icon-painting Experience

6 Icons and Popular Art
The Aesthetics of Sensibility, – The Spirit of Religious Tradition, – The Projection of Signs: Icon, Lubok, the Avant-garde

References and Editorial Notes