The Art of Engraving in Medieval Moldavia and Artistic Education

By Savitkaia, Iarîna | Review of Artistic Education, January 1, 2011 | Go to article overview

The Art of Engraving in Medieval Moldavia and Artistic Education


Savitkaia, Iarîna, Review of Artistic Education


One of the areas, studied and least known of national art history, covers the development of engraving in medieval Moldavia. Although during the XXth century many publications devoted to the old book illustrating occurred most researchers focused on the text and less - on the engravings, which only decorated the texts. Lack of information, regarding developments in this specific gender of art, causes gaps in the contemporary didactic process when the art of engraving is seen as a phenomenon barely occurred without no lasting indigenous roots.

If the clip art has received particular interest, known due to the scientists' work N.Iorga (1), G. Popescu - Vâlcea (2), G. Çtrempel (3 ), M. Topmescu (4) etc, then contributions to knowledge of engraving, which has stimulated the emergence of printing, gets more refractory attention than priority. The same issues are reflected in the research monograph D. Simionescu §i Gh. Bulutä "Pagini din istoria cärtii româneçti" ( Bucure§ti,1981) and many others(5).

In particular this is a crucial work done by I. Bianu, N. Hodos, D. Simionescu (6), which includes also most representative images in addition to text books describing the miniature book or printed book. Thus, in part, cited sources are related to the priorities of history of literature, writing and printing developments, to the paleography, engraving that once graced the book and artistic value, what is being the last, somewhat at a lower plane.

The book by Gh Racoveanu "Wood engravings at the Neamt Monastery", the work of the XIXth century may be regarded as a rare discovery from the engravers of Neamt Monastery. The importance and rarity of this paper are mentioned in the title sheet, stating that the monograph was published by the Royal Foundation for Literature and Art in number of 26 copies, consists of 44 pages, 160 original prints of which only 14 were previously presented in the album of A. Maniu "La gravure sur bois en Roumanie", published in 1929 in Bucharest (7).Among the recent research publications can be nominated as available that of C. Tatai-Baltä(8), where authors remember the first wood engravings printed in "Cazania lui Varlaam" Iasi in 1643.

Same process went within the present Republic of Moldova, much later than in Romania. In the monographs ordered and printed in Moscow in the 70s of the XXth century, A. Zevin and K. Rodnin introduced a dedicated compartment for medieval engraving of book, inserting and some illustrations, which have been the only source to which we could refer until recently (9). A more comprehensive approach, with references to various studies on xylography appears in more recent publications of T. Stavila (10). Usually, however, as in Romania, the main attention of researchers from Moldova focused on literary or paleographical aspects of the manuscript -book or printed book in the XIVXIX century. Notorious name in this field is the work of V. Pelin (11) and V. Chiriac (12).

Summing up all above we can say that the emergence of xylography stimulated the appearance of printing, which in medieval Moldavia passed a specific way. It is known that the emergence of first printing press due to joint efforts made by ruler Vasile Lupu and Kievan Metropolitan Peter Movila, through which, besides the Three Hierarchs Monastery in Iasi is established first printing (1642). With the printing presses, the Metropolitan received some wood engravings, made by the Ukrainian monk Ilya and considered among the most successful editions of prints in Kiev and Lvov between 1639-1670 (13). The engravings of this master illustrated the first book printed in Iasi in 1643 - "Cazania"; or "Romanian book of teaching" written by Metropolitan Varlaam.

Ukrainian master of engravings signed by Ilya holds a quarter of a page and illustrates the main text of Cazania. But the specificity of these designs is not established by iconographie originality of evangelical motives, but it is made by clumsy and naive expressiveness of the treatment, his images are close to works of folk art. …

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