Art/Culture (other than written texts)

The resources for visual material (often with extensive explanatory text) are growing rapidly.  This represents a sampling, since I have not yet had time to search systematically even some of the sites listed here.  Note that my purview includes the larger "Byzantine Commonwealth."

What appears to be the most comprehensive guide to web materials on art is Art History Resources on the Web.

A good guide to material specifically on Russian art is through the pages maintained by Maya Gervits at Rutgers University.  Her "Studying Russian Art and Architecture" contains well organized bibliographies and a variety of useful links, without any critical or descriptive commentary.


The most extensive collection of pictures for a wide range of locations is in the Cities/Buildings Database, created by Prof. Meredith Clausen at the University of Washington.  There is abundant material for Russia for all periods, although percentage-wise, the emphasis is "medieval."  Photos by Waugh, Kleimola, Thyret, Taranovski, and a few others.  Some of the photo sets include good images of frescoes and mosaics.   There is a lot of material for various places in Central and Eastern Europe (good photos of medieval Serbian churches), some Byzantine material from Turkey, and a lot from Central Asia.   Most photos are very good, although some need re-photoshopping to sharpen or brighten the images.  The pictures are accompanied only by bare-bones identification.  Two versions of the site exist (both accessed from the page linked above)   The older one is arranged simply alphabetically by location; the new one offers more sophisticated keyword search capability and displays several thumbnails at once, which facilitates selecting the picture you want to see enlarged.  The old site is now "archived," but images are continually being added to the new site as they become available.  Contributions to this collection are welcome, since there are still significant gaps; one can contact either Prof. Clausen or Dan Waugh for further information.

We are very fortunate that the exquisite photographs by William Craft Brumfield are now beginning to be placed on-line.  Many of his black-and-white photos of churches in the Russian north are being made available through Pomorskii universitet in Arkhangel'sk.   This page so far links to two collections, one with simple captions, showing a variety of wooden and masonry architecture of the North, including photographs from Solovki.  The second is an illustrated essay in on the "Monuments of Church Architecture of the Tot'ma Region."  The English version of these pages does not yet include the Tot'ma region essay.
          Additional collections of Brumfield's photos (in this case, color ones) are being displayed in the Library of Congress's "Meeting of Frontiers" project, for which he has done an extended exploration of Siberian architecture.   This ambitious project is "a multi-media English-Russian digital library that tells the story of the American exploration and settlement of the West, the parallel exploration and settlement of Siberia and the Russian Far East, and the meeting of the Russian-American Frontier in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest."  It includes some interesting old (18th-century) maps, bibliographical references, facsimiles of documents from the Russian-American Company archives, and eventually much more. The presentation of the visual material on the LOC site is outstanding, since one can choose various formats and resolutions, and, in the case of the maps, zoom in on details.  In addition to the photographs by Brumfield (for an index with links to what is available, click here), there is a large collection of photos by the pioneering early 20th-century photographer S. M. Prokudin-Gorskii.      

Many Russian cities now have web pages, which can be accessed from one index page: Russian city sites.   The main drawback of these sites is slow loading time; in many cases text is only in Russian.   Many of the sites are very thin for historical material, but there are significant exceptions.  I have checked only a few of the linked pages and thus can note:

Daniel Waugh has developed a rather extensive collection of materials on Novgorod, including several extensive sets of images with at least some analytical discussion.  The pages cover archaeological material, public monuments, church architecture and painting.   One page is devoted to bibliography and links.

Among the regions of Eastern Europe of interest to us, the Crimea is well represented on the web.  Some pages have quite a lot of information on historic sites such as Genoese forts.

For Byzantine churches in Constantinople, there is an excellent collection of basic information with superb pictures of both exteriors and interiors, on the site run by the  Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople:   "The Byzantine Monuments:  Churches and Monasteries."   A. Tayfun Öner's "Byzantium 1200" is a spectacular set of images of major buildings in Constantinople which includes both modern photos and computer-generated reconstructions.  Although it claims to present what they all looked like ca. 1200 CE, one might take that assertion with a grain of salt.  There are also some good photos of interiors and exteriors of Byzantine churches in the Cities/Buildings Database described above.

There is a good introduction to Mt. Athos, with high-quality pictures of the monasteries and selected icons from their collections.  Note, as of this posting, the initial image map is not functioning, but one can access the individual monasteries' pages from the listing below it.

Art Objects, including Painting (especially icons):

Boguslawski's Russian Painting offers an introductory overview that is nicely organized and has good images.  It has a section on icons, another on eighteenth century Russian painting, and others for later periods.

For images of icons, see Mitrevski's Icons

For Novgorod school icons, there is a good overview of icon painting, and an amazingly large collection just of pictures of the icons linked to the Novgorod city web site.  Text can be read in English or Russian.

For Ukrainian icons, there are 25 large images, with descriptive material.  The selection includes many well-known early East Slavic icons that arguably are not Ukrainian in provenance.

There is a comprehensive web site for Russian museums.  As with the cities site, the pages vary considerably in usefulness, although there is reason to believe that there will be rapid expansion of much of this.  Samples:

Among museums outside of Russia, note:

A few of Daniel Waugh's pages with material on Russian painting are available already.   These pages include fairly extended discussion with thumbnailed images:


The Russian Museums site listed under "Painting" also connects to historical and ethnographic museums, museums of local history, etc. 

Daniel Waugh has posted an extensive selection of images from the Mayerberg Album of Muscovy in 1661-1662.  Included are a few views of towns outside of Moscow, a lot of pictures of Moscow itself, including court ceremonial, and details from the well-known Mayerberg album sketches of individuals in various social ranks.

© 2000 Daniel C. Waugh
Last updated October 5, 2000