Christian art is a sacred art that is based on a rich tradition. It has a long history divided into several periods that have some specific features common for different types of artwork.
The main themes of the Christian artworks and Orthodox icons in particular include the image of Jesus Christ and the scenes of His life and activity. Religious icons also depict different saints and the Virgin Mary. Angels, archangels, various feasts, and other holy figures and events are also quite common in Christian art.
The art of the Orthodox Church. Orthodox icons
The art of the Orthodox Church reached its peak of development during the period of the Byzantine Empire. There are several specific branches of Christian art that appeared within this tradition. These include Russian, Bulgarian, Serbian, Greek, and Romanian icons, among others. Over the recent several decades, Orthodox artists from different countries have started to get back to their Byzantine background.
Orthodox icons broadly use the images of the Mother of God and Christ. It is believed that the first icon of the Virgin Mary was painted by Luke the Evangelist, and the first image of Christ was created “without hands” when the face of Jesus was miraculously imprinted on a piece of cloth (the Mandylion).
In the Orthodox tradition, icons have always played an important role in the salvation phenomenon. They are reminders that God became human, lived among people, and suffered for us in the flesh. The image of God in Orthodox icons also helps people notice the coexistence of the divine and earthly, which is the basis for understanding the theosis.
Icons are an integral part of the Orthodox Church and some of the most important manifestations of Christian art. They are highly valuable and play a significant role in the life of every Orthodox believer.