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Round table «Excluded art. The phenomenon of foil decoration of an icon»

Round table «Excluded art. The phenomenon of foil decoration of an icon»

Date added:

11 April 2023, Tu


Christ's Resurrection is approaching and it is time to decorate the house for the holiday. In the olden days, our grandparents used to pay special attention to icons in preparation for the holiday. In simple peasant huts, icons were usually framed in foil. The icon was taken out, carefully wiped, and if necessary, the foil was renewed.

Perhaps in many of our homes we still have icons framed in thin foil with fancy colours and patterns. It is on these festive days that they require special treatment.

On the eve of the bright holiday, on 5 April, the Domodedovo Museum of History and Art hosted a round table discussion "Excluded Art. Phenomenon of foil decoration of icons", in which the staff of the Museum Estate "Lopasnya-Zachatievskoye" took part. Scientists, historians, ethnographers gathered at the Domodedovo Museum to discuss the problem of preserving this art. In their speeches they told about their trips to Russia, about their searches and findings. Icons in foil decoration, as a rule, were house icons, and stood in the red corner not only in peasant, but also in merchant and noble houses.

Such icons not infrequently decorated rural churches. In the church of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God in Dubna and now there is a particularly revered icon of St Nicholas in foliate decoration. Being the rector of the Anno-Zachatievsky church, Father Vyacheslav Bobrovsky recalls that in the late 1990s in the church there were several icons, the finest "lace" framing of which was made of foil.

Images framed with foil became fashionable in the second half of the 19th century and were called "podfolegnitsa" in the common people. Foil is a thin and flexible metal sheet made of copper, silver, gold and other metals. Icons decorated in this way were not cheap and were intended for wealthy people. An icon with a frame made of aluminium foil was inexpensive and looked beautiful, so it was very popular among the people.

Until recently, such icons were not the subjects of study of cultural historians. Considering, first of all, the peculiarities of icon painting, scientists left their framing without attention. Thus, a whole layer of decorative and applied art was excluded, which is now catastrophically disappearing.

For all the participants of the meeting S. L. Yavorskaya held a master class on making foil jewellery. Svetlana Leonidovna is an extraordinarily creative person - an artist, art historian, who is fluent in the art of paper-cutting. On the table there were tools, foam substrate, foil of different thicknesses and a scheme with drawings. The participants learnt foil carving step by step. It turned out to be labour-intensive, and it was not easy to achieve a clear pattern from the first time. This lesson gave an understanding that the craft of the master of decoration of icons with foil is not easy, but quite accessible for everyone who wants to master it.

We thank our colleagues for their warm welcome and friendly atmosphere!

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