Dobbedreef 25, NL- 2331 SW Leiden, The Netherlands

Tel. +31 71 576 11 18 Fax: +31 71 572 75 17




VAT number NL209186367B02
Dutch Chamber of Commerce registration number 28088681
Postbank, Amsterdam, BIC or Swift code: PSTBNL21 Acc. no. 5219443
IBAN: NL41PSTB0005219443












The Iconostasis of Peter the Great in the Peter and Paul Cathedral in St Petersburg (1722-1729)


Julia Gerasimova


This is the first comprehensive study of the superb Iconostasis in the Peter and Paul Cathedral, commissioned by Peter the Great (1682-1725). This tsar also contributed to the choice of the subjects depicted on the iconostasis and certainly determined the architectonic form, i.e., that resembling Western triumphal gates. This form was given to this sacral construction in order to commemorate his final victory in the Northern War against Sweden (1700-1721). The subjects depicted on the iconostasis were chosen to glorify Peter the Great and his family, and justify his decision to abolish the patriarchate and become head of the Russian church.
Julia Gerasimova started her research on the iconostasis in St Petersburg several years ago, where she studied History of Art, and finished it in Holland, the land which was used as base by Peter the Great for his two journeys to Western Europe. These journeys were very important for the reforms which he introduced in Russia, a reflection of which is the Iconostasis published here. The author established that the iconographic sources of the scenes and the saints appearing in the iconostasis are not only Russian, but are for the greater part western. Print Bibles from the Netherlands and Germany were used as models, next to works of artists which Peter the Great admired, e.g., Rubens, or met during his journeys, e.g. Hyacinth Rigaud.

CONTENTS: Foreword. Introduction, Chapter One: The Development of the Russian Iconostasis and the Western influence (15th-18th c.). Chapter Two: Western iconographic influence on the panels of the Russian Iconostasis. Chapter Three: The Triumphal Gates of Peter the Great. Chapter Four: The Personages involved with the construction of the Iconostasis in the Peter and Paul Cathedral and its history (Peter the Great, The master I.P. Zarudnyi, The architect Domenico Trezzini, The head of the printing house M.P. Avramov, The Synod). Chapter Five: The architectonic form of the iconostasis and its decoration. Chapter Six: The iconographic programme and its meaning. Chapter Seven: Iconography (The scenes, Christ and the Virgin, the saints, Russian saints, Old Testament figures, Sculptural compositions, the statues). Chapter Eight: Stylistic observations. Conclusions, Appendices (A note on the costume, the Promemoria of M.P. Avramov, Protocol concerning the payment of the painters). Index, Bibliography, List of Illustrations, Illustrations 1-277.


“In summary this is a worthwhile book for any one interested in Russian art and culture from the time of Peter the Great. In her study of the construction of the Peter and Paul iconostasis, Gerasimova offers a fascinating story of Russian cultural transformation during the time of Peter the Great.” Michael Pesenson, in Slavic and East European Journal, 50 (2006), 737-738.

"In tracing the evolution and significance of both the iconostasis's structure and the icons displayed there, Gerasimova presents an important case study of how Western motifs infiltrated the imagery of Russian Orthodoxy in response to Peter the Great's imperial and dynastic vision." .... "The value of the book is greatly increased by the inclusion of so many excellent illustrations." Wendy Salmond, in The Russian Review, 67 (2008), 397-398.

Bound, 24 x 17 cm., ca. 450 pp. (ca. 250 pp. text, 149 illustrations in full colour and 128 in black and white)
2004           ISBN 9789080647633
             Price: Euro 250



The Presentation of Christ in the Temple

Left: Peter and Paul Iconostasis, St Petersburg 1726-29 Right: Engraving by Pontius after P.P. Rubens, 1638, Hermitage