An X-ray of an ancient icon was made in Kyiv: what was discovered


An image of Saint Raphael (Zaborovsky) was discovered under a layer of paint.

One of the decorations of St. Sophia Cathedral is the magnificent carved gilded iconostasis of the 18th century, which was created during the time of Metropolitan Raphael Zaborovsky (1731-1747). It would seem that during the restoration all the secrets of the icons have already been revealed, but the Cathedral continues to surprise.

So, on May 25 of this year, restorers and scientists of the National Reserve “Sofia of Kyiv” were able to see the majesty and artistic perfection of the “Protection of the Virgin” icon from the iconostasis.

“During planned restoration work on the iconostasis in the winter of 2022, scientists noticed that silhouettes of other images are visible through the paint layer on the icon. This telling fact, soundings, as well as the typical 19th century clothing of individual characters, hinted that the icon was rewritten. But in what volume?”, asked the Museum.

Photo: Sofia Kyivska National Reserve

The Scientific and Restoration Council of the National Reserve “Sofia of Kyiv” decided that it is necessary to carry out an X-ray examination of the “Protection of the Virgin” icon. This would make it possible to determine its original iconographic program, the original image.

The management and specialists of the “Dobrobut” medical network responded to the reserve’s official appeal. So, May 25Valery Semenenko, head of the radiology department of the Dobrobut Medical Network, in the presence of restorers, custodians of the scientific fund department and scientists conducted a unique x-ray examination of the icon. It was found out that the icon “Protection of the Virgin” in the 19th century. was rewritten not in part, but in full.

Photo: Sofia Kyivska National Reserve

“Under the oil layer of records of the 19th century. scientists were able to see the forgotten masterpiece of icon painting of the Cossack Baroque era — the Intercession of Sophia ser. 18th century Surprisingly, it is on this mysterious icon that the image of the metropolitan is present, which is probably the oldest oil portrait of Saint Raphael (Zaborovsky). It was the Metropolitan of Kyiv Raphael (1676-1747) in the novel “Miracle” that Pavlo Zagrebelny called “the last great builder” of Sophia of Kyiv, the Museum said.

By the way, on March 28, 2023, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine recognized Metropolitan Raphael of Kyiv as a saint.

The Museum hopes that in the near future, as part of the exhibition project “Sofia’s Intercession: The Return”, they will find an opportunity to introduce everyone to the hidden masterpiece of Cossack Baroque icon painting.

Iconostasis of the 18th century. Photo: Sofia Kyivska National Reserve

By the way, a unique panel depicting the ancient history of the city was previously presented in Sofia Kyivska. Monumental work of the artist Halyna Sevruk “The City on Seven Hills” found its new home in the building of the Consistory of the Sofia Architectural Ensemble after it was dismantled from the lobby of the Tourist Hotel in October 2020. The composition is placed on the wall of one of the best halls of the recently restored building.

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