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Theophanes the Greek

b c. 1335 - d c. 1410

Byzantine painter, active in Russia. Only those works he produced on Russian soil have survived and he is therefore included in the history of Russian as well as Byzantine art. He is one of the few 14th-century artists in Russia about whom there is reliable documentary evidence. According to the chronicle sources he painted the church of the Transfiguration (Spaso-Preobrazheniye) at Novgorod in 1378 and three churches in the Moscow Kremlin: the Nativity of the Virgin (Rozhdestvo Bogoroditsy; 1395), the cathedral of the Archangel Michael (Arkhangel’sky; 1399) and, with ANDREY RUBLYOV and Prokhor from Gorodets, the cathedral of the Annunciation (Blagoveshchensky; 1405); none of the paintings in these Moscow churches survives. The richest source of biographical material is a 17th-century copy of excerpts from a letter (c. 1415) from the monk and hagiographer Epiphanius the Wise (Premudry; d c. 1420) to Kirill, abbot of the monastery of the Saviour (Spassky) in Tver’. He describes the activities and working methods of Theophanes while in Moscow, thus confirming the authenticity of the chronicles’ information. He writes that Theophanes was of Greek origin and, before coming to Moscow, had worked in Constantinople (now Istanbul), Chalcedon, Galatia, Kaffa (now Feodosiya) in the Crimea, Novgorod and Nizhny Novgorod, and who painted over 40 stone churches. The letter relates that in addition to the three churches in the Moscow Kremlin, Theophanes painted the state treasury of Prince Vladimir Andreyevich Serpukhovsky (reg 1353–1410), in which he included an image of Moscow, and the terem, or small chambers, of Grand Prince Vasily I (1389–1425), also in the Kremlin. At the request of Epiphanius, Theophanes produced a miniature for a Gospels manuscript showing a view of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople and the statue of Justinian I to the south of the cathedral. He describes Theophanes as a "renowned wise man, an expert philosopher ... a famous book artist and the best artist among all the icon painters".


John the Baptist

The Dormition of the Virgin.
  The Don Virgin.
The Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia
  The Virgin.
c. 1405.
Cathedral in the Moscow Kremlin, Moscow, Russia

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