hall 32

The collection of icons of the Varna Archaeological Museum exists from the very establishment of the archaeological museum in 1906. Substantial tribute for its completion should be given to archimandrite Inokentius from Sofia /1883 –1976/ who was a long year curator in the museum.
The icon-painting exhibition consists of both icons belonging to the Museum and icons belonging to the Varna-Preslav bishopric.

The icon exhibition changed places many times – at the Girls' School, at the St. Athanasios Church to finally take its permanent place in the Archaeological Museum.
Presently it consists of 130 icons and church plate chronologically arranged. Part of the exhibits originate from the ecclesiastical regions of the Varna – Preslav bishopric and others, mainly the earlier ones, have been brought from the southern Black Sea regions /Bourgas, Sozopol/ or from Varna churches that existed during the Mediaeval Period.
Hall 32 – Icons from 16th – 18th century
The total change in the living conditions at the beginning of the 15th century that followed the termination of the Bulgarian state and the independence of the Bulgarian church put an end to the development of the elite art. The foreign domination, the ruining of churches and monasteries, the scattering of their riches chased away from the country many artists. Nevertheless, towards the end of the 15th century in the inner part of the country new buildings and monasteries sprang up over the ruins of the previous churches.
This hall represents icon-paintings of the Bulgarian Black Sea region, from the villages of the Varna-Preslav bishopric, created during the 16th – 18th century. It is quite variable and contradictory in character. The contradictions arise from the collision of the conservative following of the traditional painting schemes inherited from the previous ages and pertaining to the historic conditions with the penetrating new influences changing the aesthetic criteria.
In the older Varna Churches St. Athanasios, The Holly Virgin Panagia and St. George are arranged icons depicting images of saints characterized by their monumentality and expressiveness. Impressive is the contrast modeling of the faces thus taking out the light hue against the dark background. Of that kind are the icons depicting holidays from the end of the 16th – the beginning of the 17th century from the St. Athanasios church exhibited at the bottom of the hall.
For the modern influences of 17th – 18th century are typical the icons pained in miniature /St. George and St. Dimitrius –17th century, Deesis – 18th century/ or anatomy in geometrical forms, or outlining of separate details leading to a schematic drying of the images /St. Athanasios – 17th century/. The richer decoration of the saints' clothes /St. Spyridon and St Nicholas  - 17th century/, the calligraphic diligence in painting the hair /St. Athanasios – 17th century/, the plastic decoration of the halos and the frames of the icons /The Holly Virgin Unfadable Rose - 18t– century, Deesis – 1789/ manifest a deviation from the mediaeval tradition. All these characterize the new aesthetic demands of the icon-painters working in the coastal villages and Varna.The gold church plate contributed to the brilliance and the solemnity of the religious rituals. The Bulgarian goldsmiths of the time were masters in the filigree, the enamel, the black silver and other decorative techniques that gave them possibilities for broad artistic achievements. The decorative tradition of the silver repousse icons was brought into The Balkan Peninsula from Byzantium.
The throne crosses arranged in the central showcase have been worked out after models imported from Constantinopol, Athos and Russia. Often, ready-made filigree plates cover a basic wooden cross that is decorated with miniature carved relieves.

Hall 33 - Church Plate /17th – 19th century/
Goldsmith's Artistry /17th – 19th century/
The incense-burners and the church lamps in the side showcase resemble the patterns of old oriental torches and balsam vessels typical for churches of various religions. All these cult objects are distinguished by their high aesthetic value.
Halls 35 –36 Icons from the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast – 19th century
In the towns along the coast various studios came forward. The artistic value of the out-coming products was also various. Famous icon-painters of that time were Dimitrius of Sozopol, Nikola Sotiriadi of Constantinopol, Hadji Anagnosti, Gergi, Constantine and others. They were united by the new revival spirit of the time. The icon-painters, inspired by the diverse and colorful folk art develop the achievements of the past adopting some modern tendencies of the fashionable Western European art and quickly uptake the Baroque orientation of art. Very often new samples were imported from Athos /The Holly Virgin Portaitisa Of Iver – 1815/. Each painting bore the marks of newly arising tastes and strivings /The Holly Virgin Pantovasilisa – 1839, painted by Hadji Anagnosti, the left side panel in Hall 35 or the exceptional icon of St. Joseph Obruchnik and Christ Emannuil of 1850 at the bottom of Hall 36/ 

Instead of vain lifeless images the saints' faces were depicted close and understandable for the contemporary people. The image of the man suffering for an idea, or dying in the name of victory over the evil is represented by the following icons - St. Marina – second half of the 18th century, painted by Vionos, which is the only known till present, icon of the saint, representing numerous life scenes; St. Dimitrius and St. Minas- 1844, painted by Nikola Sotiriadi and others.
Every icon-painter created a landscape typical only for his icons. With the development of the art the icon painters got the possibility to create multi grounded compositions with preferences to architectural or landscape elements /St. Archangel Michael – 1840, painted by Nikola Sotiriadi; Sundays of the Blind – 19th century, painted by Dimitar of Sozopol/. That came as a result of the new perception of reality.
Hall 37 – Icons by Tryavna Icon Painters
The economic, political and cultural changes in the Bulgarian society at the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century led to the National Revival. The icon painters developed a new philosophy of world that brought radical changes into the image of the icon. Three significant iconographic centers appeared and developed in the towns of Trjavna, Samokov, and Bansko. In the Northeast Bulgaria work travelling masters mainly from the Trjavna painting school. Dosju Kojuv, Ioanikiy Papa Vitanov, Zakharia Tsanjuv, Pop Dimitar Kanchov and others created numerous icons of high artistic value. Icons depicting historic events closely related to the church were introduced /St. St. Cyril and Methodius – 1867 painted by Dosju Kojuv/. New aesthetic ideas made their way /The Forty Martyrs – 1849 painted by Pop Dimitar Kanchov/.
The ascetically lengthened images gave way to beautiful lively faces /The Holly Virgin – 19t century, painted by Kancho Ivanchov, Jesus Christ – 1846, painted by Zakharia Tsanjuv and others/. Fresh colors, picturesque landscapes /St. Ilijah – 1856, painted by Zakharija Tsanjuv/, bouquets of bright flowers painted in the icon corners or decorating the saints' clothes revealed the striving of the painters to reproduce life beauty and humanly love /Christ Vsedarjitel  - 1845, painted by Dimitar Krastev/. Gradually the golden background of the icons vanished and the dogmatic icon-painting schemes were left. Real people in almost real living conditions were depicted. The subject matter of the scenes became closer to the secular art.
Hall 38 – The Trjavna Masters of the 19th Century. Wood - carving.
During the 19th century not so famous Tryavna painters have also worked in the Varna region. They haven't signed their works of art but, anyhow, their icons give an idea of the pictorial talent of the people. Unknown are the names of the artists who worked out the wonderful wood-carved arks, the royal altar gates and the over - iconostasis cross collected from various churches in Varna and the Varna-Preslav bishopric. The art of the Trjavna masters is impressive with the overwhelming fantasy and the perfect blend of floral and animal decorative elements. Tradition based in people's everyday life is the main source of the abundant variations of patterns and details and the works of these masters complete our idea about the many-sided artistic manifestations of the Trjavna artists in this region of the country.

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