This book, Painted glory – Romanian Monasteries by Isablle Sabau &Carmen, is a remarkable spiritual work that fills the historical gap left for many decades, brilliant and convincing in promoting Romania’s cultural heritage to the World.
The authors, Carmen and Isabelle Sabau are rendering a higly analytic picture in words of the famous Romanian Monasteries built in the XIV th and XVII th Century in Moldavia and Bucovina, in Romania. The uplifting spiritual experience is translated into colorful frescoes and scenes from the Orthodox iconography on the walls of the monastic complexes. “The Annunciation” church of the former Monastery of Moldovita was built by Petru Rares, and the colors of the frescoes, or exterior mural paintings, are the best preserved of their kind. The sacred is present in every frescoe, the history of creation and “the Fall of man onto sin” are well preserved, , while the “Hymn to the Virgin” and The Siege of Constantinople” are the best are to be best seen in the same location, which is most commonly found in most of Suceava County monasteries. The new walls were fortified during the XVII th Century by Bishop Efrem de Radauti, and defensive walls make it look like a citadel. The authors marvel at the spectacular combination of characters and scenes held in the arms of a huge tree, which is displayed on the south exterior wall-detail of the icon: “The Jesse Tree”. The protection of Constantinople by Mary our Lord’s mother is very telling on the idea of survival of Orthodox Christianity, and Byzantine iconography in Moldova and Bucovina. This book contributes to the identification, protection and conservation of the cultural and monumental art work throughout the world. The vivid blue is used often and golden yellow for depicting the patron Saints, especially the St John The New, the patron Saint of Moldavia. The authors are tackling next the Voronet Monastery, another monumental work, initiated by Stephen The Great in 1488, near Suceava. Part of Romania’s world heritage treasures, is a royal church representing Holy bishops, Stephen the Great and his family, is reveling very skilful paintings in the Byzantine tradition, and the famous “Blue of Voronet” in the background. The church complex consists of the monastery itself, and in the 18th century the villagers fortified and since then had been used as their place of worship. “The Last Judgement” is monumental in its dimensions and use of the blue color, so unique to this place. Highly descriptive, the authors dwelve on the differences between “believers”, and Turks, or “nonbelievers”, being burnt in fire in an apolcalyptic scene. These elements of colour, Byzantine and South Slavic traditions present in this monasteries testify to the same creed and architectural conception of the Romanian people in all geographical areas. Excellent book, I highly recommend it to historians and architects. Listed in The World Treasury of Art Collection (UNESCO).
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