Art Historians Alarmed By Vladimir Putin’s Special Order to Turn Over ‘Holy Trinity’ Masterpiece at A Church

Pixabay/Peter H

Russian President Vladimir Putin has recently announced a special order to hand over the ‘Holy Trinity’ Masterpiece to Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius. However, art historians have expressed concern since the icon suffered severe damage the previous time it was displayed in that church.

Vladimir Putin’s Special Order

The ‘Holy Trinity’ icon, created by the medieval painter Andrey Rublev, will soon be on the property of the Russian Orthodox Church, making it one of the most revered masterpieces of Russian religious art, Big News Network reported. The new anti-clerical administration that took power in Russia after the revolution of 1917 declared that the icon belonged in a museum. However, in modern Russia, clerics have worked long to get the icon back.

On Monday, May 15, the church announced the impending transportation of the icon, citing a decision made by Vladimir Putin. According to the brief statement, it will be made available to everyone in the community for worship at the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow for one year. After that, the image will be transported to a monastery in the Moscow Region known as the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius. As mentioned, the piece of art was created during the first quarter of the 15th century for a cathedral located within the monastery.

As per Manila Bulletin, the turnover occurred just after the highly influential leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, lent his blessing to Putin’s decision to send soldiers to Ukraine and urged Christians to back the invasion. According to a statement released by the Moscow Patriarchate, Vladimir Putin announced the decision to give away the holy image “in response to numerous requests from Orthodox believers.” The masterpiece was believed to be created for what is now known as the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, which can be found in Sergiyev Posad just outside of Moscow.

Moreover, the Hermitage Museum confirmed on Sunday, May 14, that the monument complex of the grave of Alexander Nevsky, a historical prince and national hero, will be given to another Russian monastery. With the permission of the cultural ministry, the Church and the Hermitage Museum came to an arrangement to provide the burial site for 49 years with the possibility of extending it. The Alexander Nevsky Monastery of the Holy Trinity will be given the prince’s grave as a gesture of “particular social and spiritual unity,” according to a statement released by the museum.

On the other hand, the Russian military has suffered blows in Ukraine. As a result, the authorities in Moscow are attempting to portray the ongoing military assault in religious terms. The Russian army has dispatched dozens of Orthodox clergy to the front lines to provide spiritual support for the soldiers there. The words “washes away all sins” were said by Patriarch Kirill in a sermon that took place in September of last year.

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Art Conservative’s Concern over the Special Order of Putin

A report from Meduza stated that the masterpiece created by Rublev was displayed at the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergiu for three days during the summer of 2022 when it was on exhibition by the Tretyakov Gallery. The icon reportedly returned from its brief “visit” to the Lavra in a destabilized condition. The conservation staff noted 61 “substantial changes” to the material makeup of the icon, including five areas with severe damage.

Art conservators are concerned about the icon because they intend to keep it at the Lavra forever. They believe that, at this time, all of its components are still in a precarious condition. Yet, the icon’s continued existence depends on highly accurate climate management, which will be impossible at the Lavra.

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