SHOWCASES 14 AND 15. EMBROIDERY OF THE FIRST HALF OF THE 17TH CENTURY.Close
In the first half of the 17th century, the art of pictorial embroidery experienced several periods of development. At the beginning of the century, the "Time of Troubles"—as Russian people called the time of Polish-Lithuanian intervention—all Kremlin workshops stopped working and were ruined, as well as the royal treasury and church vestry.
After the enthronement of the new Romanov dynasty in 1613, the centre of "needlework" moved for a while from the palace to the Kremlin's Ascension Monastery, where the mother of Tsar Mikhail Fyodorovich—"the great elderess" Marfa had moved. Worn-out things were repaired there, unfinished things were completed, and only by the 1620s, Tsarina's needlework chambers began to revive. They came under the jurisdiction of the Tsarina's workshop chambers, which since 1626 is mentioned as a separate court institution. Gradually, the staff of the craftswomen was restored. There were fifteen embroideresses in gold at that time. Elderess Marfa, who, until she died in 1631, had a great influence at the royal court and actually managed Tsarina's household, seems to have played a major role in preparing embroideresses and creating an artistic style of needlework chambers of that time.
More than forty embroideresses in gold worked in the Tsarina's needlework chamber in the second quarter of the 17th century, and there were at least fifty women by the middle of the century. In the 1620s and 1630s, icon painters Ivan Passein and Mark Matveev, as well as writer Ivan Gomulin, and in the late 1640s and 1650s, Simon Ushakov and painter Andrei Gomulin, were involved in work in Tsarina's needlework chamber.
Showcase 14 shows The Entombment shroud made for being donated to the Kremlin Ascension Cathedral of the Ascension Convent by order of Tsar Mikhail Romanov and Patriarch Filaret in 1627. The iconography of the shroud closely replicates the composition of the shroud from the Assumption Cathedral of the Kremlin, made in the workshop of Euphrosyne Staritskaya, except margins, where the images of the saints are replaced with a liturgical inscription. However, it should be noted that here, the proportions of figures are less elegant and the patterns of clothes and some other details do not correspond to the sample.
Of interest is also a ripidia, which Archimandrite Nikanor donated to the Solovetsky Monastery.
The appearance of new features in the works of the Tsarina's workshop is clearly seen on the podea with the image of Our Lady of Vladimir from the Assumption Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin ( to the right in showcase 15), the creation of which refers to the 1640s. Due to the abundance of gold threads, pearls and stones, the image appears to be cased in icon cover, which is emphasized by embroidered Feasts on margins, as it was on a filigree cover of an ancient icon made in the workshop of Metropolitan Photius in the early 15th century. In the records of the needlework chambers, the embroidered Our Lady of Vladimir with Feasts is called "icon", which originally suggested that it was meant as an independent icon or a processional podea. Draft icon painters had been sketching the image for fourteen days, as written in the documents.
The podea of Our Lady of Smolensk (Hodegetria) also presented in the showcase is executed presumably in Moscow in the late 16th century and represents an earlier style of embroidery. Faces are carefully worked out, almost without shades, and the image looks especially festive against a raspberry satin background. The veil is characterized by an abundance of gold embroidery on garments, which distinguished the works of Moscow makers of this period.