Religion has played an essential role in Russian society, from the Church’s earliest beginnings in 988, when Grand Prince Vladimir officially adopted Orthodox Christianity as his state religion, until the present. After this ‘baptism’, the Orthodox faith spread rapidly throughout the realm, adding an extra dimension to church history and art history.
The exhibition walls were richly filled with icons, large and small, centuries old and world famous. Icons are sometimes called windows on eternity, for they are believed to reveal a piece of heaven. Their beauty is without parallel. Attention also focused on the origins and development of Russian icon painting, with Kiev as its birthplace.
The themes of Splendour and Glory also included the Church’s Byzantine origins and tradition, ecclesiastical feast days with Pascha (Easter) as the high point of the religious calendar, and the Tsars and their ‘private’ church. On display for the first time were an imposing iconostasis, exceptional fourteenth-century frescoes from Pskov, and a wealth f magnificent icons from The State Hermitage Museum St. Petersburg and other renowned Russian collections.
Splendour and Glory was up at the Hermitage from 19 March to 16 September 2011.