The Byzantine and Christian Museum in Athens, where the icon is exhibited, houses one of the most famous collections of Byzantine art. Its exposition counts more than 25,000 icons and divine service items, jewellery pieces, sculptures, mosaics, frescoes, ceramic items and manuscripts covering the period from the 3rd to the 20th century.
The first collection of the museum, which was officially opened in 1914, was put together by the councillor to Queen Olga of the Hellenes (before marriage Grand Duchess Olga Romanova), founder of the Christian Archaeological Society George Lambakis.
The Ascension icon, painted by Andrei Rublev in 1408, is part of the State Tretyakov Gallery’s collection.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Prime Minister, ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great honour for me to attend the opening of this unique exhibition of the Ascension icon, a masterpiece from the collection of Moscow’s State Tretyakov Gallery. This is a work by a great icon-painter, monk Andrei Rublev.
Andrei Rublev took his inspiration from the cultural and religious heritage of Byzantium, whose spiritual successor Greece is. Having mastered various elements and techniques of Byzantine artists, Rublev was able to add to and enrich them. Mr Prime Minister highlighted the Russian style of this icon.
For a long time, the name of Andrei Rublev was known only to specialists. It was only in the 20th century that his art gained broader recognition. Only five of his works, five icons, have survived. The Ascension is one of them. It exudes a sense of harmony and a balance of form that are inherent to the artist. The icon was painted in the early 15th century during the restoration of the Dormition Cathedral in Vladimir.
I would also like to highlight that the exhibition is held as part of the cross-cultural years of Russia and Greece, whose launches the President of Greece and I declared in Moscow in January. I am sure that many more memorable events will be held in the course of this extensive project.
I would like to thank the management of the State Tretyakov Gallery for organising this exhibition and to express gratitude to our Greek partners and friends, the staff of the Byzantine and Christian Museum in Athens. I know that exhibits form your museum will be demonstrated in Russian museums in Moscow and St Petersburg. Thank you very much for this. I am sure that this will arouse a huge interest not only among specialists but all lovers of pictorial art and spiritual paintings, in particular.