Belarusian School of Icon Painting

The Ascension of St. Mary (Assunta)
[Wzniasiennie Maryi (Asunta)]

ascension.jpg (53563 bytes)

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Last quarter of XVII c.

Author unknown

Wooden board, egg tempera
126 x 86 x 2.5 cm

The icon is currently in the Museum of Ancient Belarusian Culture of the Republic of Belarus.

This Altar icon was described by the expedition of the Institute of Art Critics, Ethnography and Folklore of the Byelorussian SSR Academy of Sciences in 1970. At that time the icon was located in Trinity Roman Catholic Church (built in 1900-1902) in the village of Gerviaty, Astravets region, Hrodna voblasc'.

herviaty.jpg (18234 bytes)

The St. Trinity Church was built in 1899-1903 by count Al'sheuski according to the plan of architect A.I. Al'shalouski on the location of earlier wooden Roman Catholic Church that existed here since 1526. It is built in Neo-Gothic style and is currently active. Some stained glasses have survived.

The icon was restored by P.R. Zhurbej at the Special Scientific Restoration Shop of the Ministry of Culture of Byelorussian SSR  in Minsk in 1979.

The image of Ascension of Mary becomes popular in Europe since XV c.  At the time she is depicted as ascending "in flesh". Later in XV-XVIII cc. the apocrific details appear in such depictions - such as giving belt of innocence to Thomas (as it is in this icon). The new moon depicted in such icons symbolizes purity of God Mother.

   The composition is divided into two levels. At the top level on gray-pink-blue background of clouds Mary is supported by two angels. She is wearing pink dress and blue cape. She has a golden nimbus around her head and new moon at her feet. Mary is handing down a black belt to a monk in black clothes covered with silver cloak. The crowned women, popes and simple rfolks without any hats are shown in the lower level.

In the middle there is a depiction of church (supposedly it is a destroyed Trinity Church of Gerviaty that was sanctified in 1525). And in the lowest level an angel is shown pulling a golden-haired woman from hell. Probaly allusion to some local history.

References used in page:

"Ikanapis Belarusi XV-XVIII stahoddziau"("Icon Painting of Belarus in XV-XVIII centuries"), Minsk - 1994, publishing house "Belarus",Ed.: N.F. Vysockaia.
ISBN 5-338-01183-2

"Arhitektura Belarusi. Encyklapedychny davednik" ("Architecture of Belarus. Short Encycopedia") Ed.: A.A. Voinau and others, Minsk - 1993, Publishing house "Belaruskaia Encyklapedyia, named after Piatrus' Brouka".
ISBN 5-85700-078-5.

"Katalickiia Hramy Na Belarusi. Encyklapedychny davednik" ("Roman Catholic Cathedrals in Belarus. Short Encycopedia") Ed.: A.M. Kulagin, Minsk - 2000, Publishing house "Belaruskaia Encyklapedyia, named after Piatrus' Brouka"
ISBN 985-11-0187-7.

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