Theophanes the Greek
Theophanes the Greek (circa 1340 – circa 1410) was a great Byzantine and Russian icon painter, miniaturist and master of monumental fresco paintings. By the way, he was the best of icon-painter and a wise philosopher.
Theophanes was born in Byzantium, and was therefore known in Russia as the Greek. Before coming to Rus he worked in Constantinople, Chalcedon (suburb of Constantinople), Genoese Galata and the Cafe (now Feodosia in the Crimea). To tell the truth, only frescoes in Feodosia were preserved. Probably, he arrived in Rus along with Metropolitan Cyprian.
Theophanes settled in Novgorod in 1370. In 1378, he began working on the painting of the Church of the Savior’s Transfiguration on Ilin Street. The most grandiose image in the temple is the image of the Savior in the dome. The frescoes of the Trinity chapel are best preserved. Theophanes had a noticeable influence on the development of Novgorod art.
The memory of Theophanes remained in Novgorod icons. In in the icon Fatherland (XIV century) there are seraphim, copied from the frescoes of the Church of the Savior on Ilin Street. His influence is also seen in Novgorod’s book graphics, in the design of such manuscripts as Ivan the Terrible‘s Psalter (the last decade of the fourteenth century) and Pogodinsky Prolog (the second half of the 14th century).
The subsequent events of his life are poorly known, according to some reports the icon painter worked in Nizhny Novgorod, but some researchers tend to believe that he also worked in Kolomna and Serpukhov. In the early 1390s, Theophanes arrived in Moscow.
In Moscow, Theophanes painted churches, private houses, was engaged in book graphics and in painting of icons. He could design the Gospel of Boyar Fedor Koshka.
There is no clear information about his icons. Traditionally, his authorship is attributed to the Assumption of the Mother of God, Don Icon of the Mother of God, Transfiguration of the Lord.
There is no exact information about where and when the icon Assumption was painted, but according to indirect data it is believed that this happened in Moscow.
Theophanes painted a new stone church of the Nativity of the Virgin in 1395, the Church of St. Archangel Michael in 1399, and the Annunciation Church together with Andrei Rublev in 1405. Also, he created icons of the Deesis tier from the iconostasis of the Annunciation Cathedral. It was the first iconostasis in Russia with life-size figures. The iconostasis consists of the following icons: Basil the Great, Apostle Peter, Archangel Michael, Our Lady, Savior, John the Baptist, Archangel Gabriel, Apostle Paul, John Chrysostom.
The crater on Mercury was named in honor of Theophanes the Greek.
In Andrei Tarkovsky’s Andrei Rublyov (1966), Nikolai Sergeev played the role of Theophanes.
The exact date of death of a genius is not known, in some papers it is even said that he died after 1405. In 1415 the author of the famous letter Epiphany the Wise mentioned the Greek in the past tense. So, he was no longer alive.