'The Toil of St. Sergius' (Mikhail Nesterov, 1896) - GREAT RUSSIAN CHRISTIAN ART

St. Sergius of Radonezh was born in Rostov the Great, in the place where the famous Varnitsky Monastery now stands. In this inspiring painting by Mikhail Nesterov, our attention is drawn to both the holiness and the humility of the saint, as we see a haloed St. Sergius sawing wood, diligently laboring in a simple Russian village.

A few of the most famous Russian Christian artists:

19th C:    Repin       Ivanov       Polenov       Kramskoy       Nesterov       Semiradsky   

Contemporary:    Ryzhenko       Glazunov       Morgun       Afonina      

Our top 10 favorites: A purely subjective list of paintings and artists we love.

To see all of the over 100 paintings in this series, click here.

About this series: As we learned about Russia's traditional faith, Russian Orthodox Christianity, we discovered an enormous, mostly forgotten treasure of striking Christian paintings, mostly unknown in the West, starting from approximately the early 1800s, and continuing to this day.

So far we have cataloged over 150 images, and are discovering more all the time. We will gradually be getting them all online. If you know of a painter or sculptor which we can add to the series, please let us know in the form below. You can see the entire list of what we already have online here.

'Saint Sergius' labours' (central part of the triptych)  is a painting by the Russian artist Mikhail Nesterov,  work in his series on Sergius of Radonezh. 'Saint Sergius' labours' is an oil painting on canvas, measuring 53″ × 52″

Link to high resolution image.

At the very end of the 19th century, Mikhail Nesterov created the monumental triptych entitled 'Saint Sergius' labours', describing the period of the life of the Saint together with the brethren. Masterfully combines images of saints and magnificent landscapes, the artist on each part of the picture depicts different seasons.

The central picture shows the sawing of a log. Sergius with his companion, another monk, dressed only in caskets. The image of the saint is the personification of hard work, shows meekness and diligence in the construction of the monastery. The hot summer reigns in the background; there are mighty spruces and slender birches. The picture on the right shows the street of the monastery, covered with snow. Sergius, dressed in a black robe, stands thoughtfully on a narrow snow-covered path. The artist emphasizes the sad face of the Holy One against the background of the splendor of the Russian winter, the brilliant attire of wooden huts, the church with a bell tower and tall firs. 


Mikhail Vasilyevich Nesterov (1862 - 1942) was a Russian and Soviet painter; associated with the Peredvizhniki and Mir Iskusstva. He was one of the first exponents of Symbolist art in Russia. He was born to a strongly patriarchal merchant family. His father was a draper and haberdasher, but always had a strong interest in history and literature. As a result, he was sympathetic to his son's desire to be an artist, but insisted that he acquire practical skills first and, in 1874, he was sent to Moscow where he enrolled at the Voskresensky Realschule. Two years later, he entered the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts, where he worked with Pavel Chistyakov.

About the Great Russian Christian Art series:

Russia has a wonderfully rich heritage of Christian and Bible-themed painting which reached its zenith in the second half of the 19th century, as part of the realist school. Many of the canvases are enormous, filling an entire wall of a large public hall. Some of them took decades to complete. They are a striking and beautiful testimony to how deeply ingrained Christianity is in Russian history, culture, philosophy, thought, indeed, in her very soul. They are a delight to behold.

As Russia emerges as a leader in the return to traditionalism, this style of painting is again in vogue, and there are also several contemporary Christian painters creating extraordinary canvases. Indeed, Moscow has an excellent art academy dedicated to this style, a topic we covered in the profile of Ilya Glazunov, a leading, recently deceased painter in this genre.  See: A Conservative Russian Lion With Real Mass Influence – The Painter Ilya Glazunov

Many of these paintings and artists are hardly known in the West, dismissed by the secular, atheist, globalist modern 'art' vogue. We are delighted to bring you this series, which consists of several dozens of works. You can see all of the works in this series by clicking here.

We think you’ll enjoy them as much as we do.

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