Russian art and architecture: The Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries

After the fall of Constantinople in 1453 the Russian church became independent of the Greek Orthodox faith, and the Moscow school of art and architecture became the official liturgical and court art of Russia, maintaining this status until the 18th cent. In the 16th cent. art was first pressed into the service of the government. Frescoes such as The Heart of the Czar Is in the Hand of God decorated the palace walls of Ivan IV.

In architecture a new period began in the 15th cent., when the first of many Italian architects were invited to work on the Kremlin in Moscow (see under kremlin). The Cathedral of the Dormition (1475–79), planned by Aristotele Fioravanti, is notable for a new rationality of proportions, and Italian High Renaissance elements can also be seen in the decoration (pilasters, scallop shells, and arches) of the Cathedral of St. Michael (1505–9), built by Alevisio Novi. On the other hand, the Russo-Byzantine style was still very much in favor under Ivan IV. The Cathedral of St. Basil (1555–60) was designed by two Russian architects, Postnik and Barma, who combined several chapels into one unique and splendid church. With its profusion of oddly shaped cupolas, gilt and polychrome arches, and air of fairy-tale fantasy, it served as a model for Russian churches until the 17th cent.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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