Period: Late 17th – early 18th century

During the transition from two-dimensional icon-painting on wood to three-dimensional portraits on canvas, the first Russian artists painted a form of portrait known as a parsuna, meaning the representation of a concrete “person”, as opposed to the saints of yore. The charm of the parsuna lies in its naive union of the archaic devices of icon-painting and the attempts of the anonymous masters to conform to the European portrait genre.

In the earliest examples of parsuna painting at the end of the seventeenth century, the portraits are rough and ready in their depiction of the subject’s face and hands. But the artists were already concentrating on capturing the texture and folds of the clothes and the facial features of a concrete individual.

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