Changes in the phenomenon of icon-painting in Romania from the second half of the nineteenth century to the present day
The thesis aims to prove, on the one hand that the second half of the nineteenth century was the period of maximum deviation from the traditional Romanian style of icon-painting and, on the other hand, that the process following the Romanian Orthodox Church's Synod of 1889, in spite of the proclaimed return to a pure Byzantine style, actually has involved the coexistence of at least two main styles of painting: Eastern Mannerist of Byzantine lineage and Western Mannerist of Renaissance persuasion. In addition to this, a mixture of various elements, even in the painting of the same building, is also present, reaching sometimes the point of kitsch. As steps towards this end, my thesis discusses the way in which the tradition of the Orthodox Church regarding icon and wall-painting manifested itself throughout Romanian history, with special emphasis on the period from the second half of the nineteenth century to the present day. I investigate whether or not, and how the Romanian modern icons (still) fit into the Byzantine conception of an icon. The thesis presents the same tradition regarding the requirements of the profession of an iconographer, how they were fulfilled in the past and how they are satisfied today in Romania, in both a monastic and a secular milieu. Traditionally, in addition to their skills and artistic training, it is essential that iconographers should be deep believers, have a solid theological training, and live a very pure life. In Chapter 6 I present the answers of 27 Romanian contemporary iconographers to a 17 item questionnaire regarding the way in which they are trained and keep the canonical rules today, the techniques they use in painting and their own attitude towards their work.