Art and Faith

Friday, 8 June 2012

Albina Tsybikova. A Self-Portrait. 1984

A Self-Portrait

Albina Tsybikova


Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Albina Tsybikova. Prayer. 1995


Albina Tsybikova


Saturday, 3 April 2010

Sergei Smirnov. Easter Sunday. undated (2000s?)

Easter Sunday

Sergei Smirnov

undated (2000s?)


This day is the very centre of our faith. As St Paul put it, plainly and without any fancy frou-frou, “If Christ be not risen from the dead, your faith is in vain”. That’s what it is, straight-up, without any mixer or ice. No other day’s as important or as joyous. It’s why the martyrs faced the lions in the Coliseum. It’s why St Nicholas punched out Arius at the First Council. It’s why St Mark of Ephesus stood tall against the false Florentine union. It’s why the Martyrs of the Butovo Poligon persisted to the end. It’s why Metropolitan Laurus and Patriarch Aleksei embraced and ended the pointless Church war.

Christ is risen from the dead,

Trampling on death by death,

And upon those in the tombs,

Bestowing Life.

That’s it folks. Please, do spare me your pointless theologising, self-centred airy-fairy lecturing, and misquotations from badly-translated editions of the Fathers and canons. To reiterate, Christ rose from the dead. He promises the same to us. All we’ve got to do is to persevere to the end… the older I get, the simpler my faith becomes. Don’t read to me from a book… show me your faith in your life! Keep it focused; keep it tight; keep it to the point. THAT’S what Our Lord expects of us. With God’s help, we’ll make it.

Христос воскресе!

Воистинну воскресе!

My thanks to all of you… you DO keep me going. I bow in respect to you all. Have a WONDERFUL holiday.


Thursday, 7 August 2008

Mikhail Nesterov. The Most Holy Mother of God of Tenderness. 1909

The Most Holy Mother of God of Tenderness

Mikhail Nesterov



This is an example of the iconography executed by the great artist Mikhail Nesterov for the Marfa-Mariinskoye Obitel (Martha and Mary Convent) in Moscow. He also designed the habits of the sisterhood. Of course, it is not in the “approved” “Byzantine” style. Oh, dear! Let’s all shudder together in unison! No doubt, my faithful readers know my opinion on “Byzantine” iconography! Well… it hasn’t changed one whit since the last time! I remember a recent Anglo-Saxon convert excoriating me for using “Mother of God” instead of “Theotokos” and for championing “Western” icons. Firstly, we do NOT say “Theotokos” in Russian, we say “Bogoroditse” (She who bore God, the Godbearer). We also say… GASP! …”Bogomater” (Mother of God). Therefore, in English, “Mother of God” or “Godbearer” do quite nicely. As for “Theotokos”, that is an precious affectation best discarded. As for the complaint against “Western” icons, it was made by a person ignorant of Russian art history, so, as a Christian, I must extend forgiveness (to the person, not to the idea… that’s still absurd!). If Grand Princess St Yelizaveta Fyodrovna the New Martyr approved of Nesterov’s take on iconography, so do I! I do daresay that the blood of a martyr outweighs all the pseudo-scholarship from the usual cast of suspects.


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