Serbian Icons in Matica Srpska Gallery – Novi Sad
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Serbian Icons in Matica Srpska Gallery – Novi Sad

One of the highlights of my stay in Novi Sad was seeing the magnificent collection of Serbian icons in Matica Srpska Gallery. So, that’s how I’ll start writing about this very precious museum that I visited for the very first time. Not for a moment I imagined that, with the wealth of its collection, this museum would rival the National Museum in Belgrade.

But, let’s start with a word about Matica Srpska and the Gallery.

 

 

MATICA SRPSKA GALLERY

 

Established in 1826 in Pest, Matica Srpska is the oldest Serbian cultural institution. It’s also the oldest “matica” in the world – a Slavonic concept for promotion of national culture that gained prominence during the 19th century romantic nationalism.

The gallery was also established in Pest, in 1847, but it moved to Novi Sad in 1864.

In 1947, one part of the collection of the then Matica Srpska Museum went to the newly established Museum of Vojvodina. However, the artistic collection remained with the Matica Srpska Gallery.

The museum occupies a building of the former Stock Exchange, that you can see in the photo below.

You can read more about this museum on its official web site, there are many more interesting details.

 

Serbian icons in Matica Srpska
Matica Srpska Gallery

 

 

SERBIAN ICONS IN MATICA SRPSKA GALLERY

 

As you will see in this post, most of the icons in the museum come from Serbian Orthodox churches in Vojvodina, which is the Serbian northern province. Despite the fact that it has always been predominantly populated by Serbs, Vojvodina officially became part of Serbia only after the First World War.

The Ottomans conquered it at the same time when they conquered the rest of Serbia, throughout the 15th and the 16th century. But from the beginning of the 18th century, it came under the Austro-Hungarian rule, while Belgrade and the rest of southern Serbia remained under the Ottomans for approximately further 150 years.

You can observe these historical events when you visit cities and towns in Vojvodina. They all have the Austro-Hungarian appearance, the same as you can see everywhere where the Habsburgs ruled. But, cities and towns in the rest of Serbia are different. The same as Belgrade, they started to develop only after the liberation from the Ottomans in the mid 19th century.

That’s why you can find magnificent Serbian Orthodox churches even in the smallest villages in Vojvodina. That’s also where the Serbian art flourished in the 18th and the 19th century and from where the Serbian icons in Matica Srpska Gallery are.

 

 

THE OLDEST ICONS IN THE GALLERY

 

The oldest icons in the Gallery are from the 16th and the 17th century. They demonstrate the perseverance of the Byzantine style of icon painting, which lasted until the end of the 17th century. The icons in the museum are of different influences – Russian, Italo-Cretan and also local, where the Orthodox icon painting tradition lasted for a long time.

The early 16th century icon “The Annunciation”, by an unknown Greek painter, is an example of the best tradition in the Byzantine icon-painting. It’s one of the oldest and most beautiful icons from Fruška Gora monasteries.

 

Serbian icons in Matica Srpska
The Annunciation – Anonymous Painter (beginning of the 16th century)

 

 

Serbian icons in Matica Srpska
The Mother of God “Umiljenija” – Anonymous Painter (end of the 17th century)

 

 

Serbian icons in Matica Srpska
The Mother of God “Kostromska” – Anonymous Russian Painter (17th century)

 

The two icons that you can see below came from the Krušedol monastery treasury. These icons, by Russian painters, are also typical of the best Russian tradition in icon painting that started in the late Middle Ages.

 

Serbian icons in Matica Srpska
The Three Holy Hierarchs – Tihon Filatjev Ivanov (1687)

 

 

Serbian icons in Matica Srpska
Saint Nicholas – Spyridon Grigoriev (1687)

 

 

ICONS FROM SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCHES IN VOJVODINA

 

Without getting into too much further commentary, the rest of the icons that you can see in this post come from various Serbian Orthodox churches in Vojvodina. When I did a research for this post, I had to check the map to see where those places are. It turned out that some of them are small villages. It makes it even more interesting to learn that such small places have significant Serbian Orthodox temples where prominent Serbian painters worked on their embellishment.

A small part of that vast artistic legacy that exists in numerous churches across the Vojvodina province is in this gallery. It’s a rather big collection of icons, much bigger than what there is in the National Museum in Belgrade and it’s stunning.

 

 

ST. NICHOLAS CHURCH – STARI SLANKAMEN

 

The two icons below came from the St. Nicholas church in Stari Slankamen.

 

Serbian icons in Matica Srpski
St. Tzar Uroš, St. Prince Lazar and St. Theodore Tyron – Stefan Tenecki (1764)

 

 

Serbian icons in Matica Srpska
St. Stefan Štiljanović, St. Simeon of Serbia, Serbian Archbishops St. Sava and St. Arsenije – Stefan Tenecki (1764)

 

 

ST. NICHOLAS CHURCH – SIVAC

 

The icon below is from the St. Nicholas church in Sivac.

 

Serbian icons in Matica Srpska
The Three Holy Hierarchs – Stefan Tenecki (1764)

 

 

ST. GEORGE CHURCH – ČALMA

 

The following two icons came from the St. George church in Čalma.

 

Serbian icons in Matica Srpska
Jesus Christ – Stanoje Popović (1730 – 1740)

 

 

Serbian icons in Matica Srpska
St. George and St. Demetrius – Anonymous Painter (1730 – 1740)

 

 

THE CHURCH OF NATIVITY OF ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST – BAČKA PALANKA

 

Then, we have two icons that came from the Church of Nativity of St. John the Baptist in Bačka Palanka.

 

Serbian icons in Matica Srpska
The Virgin and Child – Anonymous Painter (c. 1730)

 

 

Serbian icons in Matica Srpska
Jesus Christ – Anonymous Painter (c. 1730)

 

 

THE CHURCH OF ST. MATTHEW THE EVANGELIST – SRPSKI MILETIĆ

 

The two icons that you can see below are from the Church of St. Matthew the Evangelist in Srpski Miletić.

 

Serbian icons in Matica Srpska
Jesus Christ – Anonymous Painter (first quarter of the 18th century)

 

 

Serbian icons in Matica Srpska
The Virgin and Child – Anonymous Painter (first quarter of the 18th century)

 

 

ST. DEMETRIUS CHURCH – BAJŠA

 

The icon below is from the St. Demetrius Church in Bajša.

 

Serbian icons in Matica Srpska
St. George – Nikola Petrović (c. 1740)

 

 

THE CHURCH OF ST. STEFAN DEČANSKI – VILOVO

 

The icon below is from the Church of St. Stefan Dečanski in Vilovo.

 

Serbian icons in Matica Srpska
Apostles Thomas and Jacob – Anonymous Painter (c. 1730)

 

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any information about the origin of the icon in the photo below.

 

Serbian icons in Matica Srpska
The Virgin and Child – Anonymous Painter (c. 1720 – 1730)

 

 

THE SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH IN THE MOHOVO PARISH

 

The icon in the photo below came from the Serbian Orthodox Church in the parish of Mohovo, which is in the present day Croatia, just across the border from Serbia.

 

Serbian icons in Matica Srpska
Jesus Christ the King of Kings – Anonymous Painter (first quarter of the 18th century)

 

 

ST. NICHOLAS CHURCH – SIVAC

 

The next two icons are from the St. Nicholas Church in Sivac.

 

Serbian icons in Matica Srpska
The Virgin and Child – Anonymous Painter (c. 1750)

 

 

Serbian icons in Matica Srpska
Jesus Christ – Anonymous Painter (c. 1750)

 

 

THE CHURCH OF THREE HOLY HIERARCHS – NOVI SAD

 

The icon below comes from the Church of Three Holy Hierarchs (Almaška church) in Novi Sad. I mentioned this church in my previous post.

 

Serbian icons in Matica Srpska
St. Demetrius – Hristofor Žefarović (c. 1737)

 

 

ST. COSMAS AND DAMIAN CHURCH – NEŠTIN

 

The icon below is from the St. Cosmas and Damian Church in Neštin.

 

Serbian icons in Matica Srpska
St. Nicholas – Stanoje Popović (1741)

 

 

THE HOLY ARCHANGEL MICHAEL CHURCH – VIZIĆ

 

The next two icons are from the Holy Archangel Michael church in Vizić.

 

Serbian icons in Matica Srpska
Jesus Christ the Great Archpriest – Stanoje Popović (1744)

 

 

Serbian icons in Matica Srpska
The Virgin and Child – Stanoje Popović (1744)

 

 

ST. NICHOLAS CATHEDRAL – SREMSKI KARLOVCI

 

The next two icons are from the magnificent St. Nicholas Cathedral in Sremski Karlovci.

 

Serbian icons in Matica Srpska
St. Nicholas – Georgije Stojanović (1737)

 

 

Serbian icons in Matica Srpska
Jesus Christ – Georgije Stojanović (1737)

 

 

THE SERBIAN ORTHODOX PARISH OF VRDNIK

 

Finally, the two icons below are from the Serbian Orthodox parish of Vrdnik.

 

Serbian icons in Matica Srpska
Jesus Christ with Apostles in Medallions – Stanoje Popović (1743)

 

 

Serbian icons in Matica Srpska
The Virgin and Child with Prophets in Medallions – Stanoje Popović (1743)

 

Having seen the collection of icons in Matica Srpska Gallery in Novi Sad, I’d like to visit these and other churches in Vojvodina, but I’m not sure how feasible that would be. There is a church in every place, even in the smallest of villages, with phenomenal works of art.

Perhaps, for the time being it’s enough what I’ve seen in this gallery. The photos in this post are only a small fraction of the permanent collection in the museum. If you go to Novi Sad, I hope that this post will inspire you to visit this museum too.

Its collection of the Serbian Orthodox icons is spectacular!

 

 

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