Bogdan Saltanov

Bogdan Saltanov

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Bogdan Saltanov also known as Ivan Ievlevich Saltanov, was an Armenian
Armenians
Armenian people or Armenians are a nation and ethnic group native to the Armenian Highland.The largest concentration is in Armenia having a nearly-homogeneous population with 97.9% or 3,145,354 being ethnic Armenian....

-born Russian painter at the court of Alexis I of Russia
Alexis I of Russia
Aleksey Mikhailovich Romanov was the Tsar of Russia during some of the most eventful decades of the mid-17th century...

 and his successors. Saltanov headed the painting workshop of the Kremlin Armoury
Kremlin Armoury
The Kremlin Armory is one of the oldest museums of Moscow, established in 1808 and located in the Moscow Kremlin .The Kremlin Armoury originated as the royal arsenal in 1508. Until the transfer of the court to St Petersburg, the Armoury was in charge of producing, purchasing and storing weapons,...

 from 1686. Saltanov's legacy include Orthodox icon
Icon
An icon is a religious work of art, most commonly a painting, from Eastern Christianity and in certain Eastern Catholic churches...

s for church and secular use, illuminated manuscript
Illuminated manuscript
An illuminated manuscript is a manuscript in which the text is supplemented by the addition of decoration, such as decorated initials, borders and miniature illustrations...

s, secular parsuna portraits including the portraits of Stepan Razin and Feodor III of Russia
Feodor III of Russia
Feodor III Alexeevich of Russia was the Tsar of all Russia between 1676 and 1682....

 as a young man (see Attribution problem).

Igor Grabar
Igor Grabar
Igor Emmanuilovich Grabar was a Russian post-impressionist painter, publisher, restorer and historian of art. Grabar, descendant of a wealthy Rusyn family, was trained as a painter by Ilya Repin in Saint Petersburg and by Anton Ažbe in Munich...

 considered Saltanov and his contemporaries Ivan Bezmin and Vasily Poznansky as the fourth and the last class of Simon Ushakov
Simon Ushakov
Simon Fyodorovich Ushakov was a leading Russian graphic artist of the late 17th-century. Together with Fyodor Zubov and Fyodor Rozhnov, he is associated with the comprehensive reform of the Russian Orthodox Church undertaken by Patriarch Nikon.-Biography:We know almost nothing about the early...

 school, an "extreme left wing in the history of Russian icon art, the Jacobins
Jacobin (politics)
A Jacobin , in the context of the French Revolution, was a member of the Jacobin Club, a revolutionary far-left political movement. The Jacobin Club was the most famous political club of the French Revolution. So called from the Dominican convent where they originally met, in the Rue St. Jacques ,...

 whose art departed with the last traces of an already evaporated tradition
" . Studies of 1990s–2000s partially refute this statement, asserting that Saltanov was substantially independent of Ushakov and his legacy.

Biography



In 1660 Zakar Sagradov, an Armenian trader from New Julfa
New Julfa
New Julfa is the Armenian quarter of Isfahan, Iran, located along the south bank of the river Zayandeh River....

, serving as an envoy of Shah
Shah
Shāh is the title of the ruler of certain Southwest Asian and Central Asian countries, especially Persia , and derives from the Persian word shah, meaning "king".-History:...

 of Persia, delivered Shah's gifts to Tsar
Tsar
Tsar is a title used to designate certain European Slavic monarchs or supreme rulers. As a system of government in the Tsardom of Russia and Russian Empire, it is known as Tsarist autocracy, or Tsarism...

 Alexis. The package included, among other items, an engraved
Engraving
Engraving is the practice of incising a design on to a hard, usually flat surface, by cutting grooves into it. The result may be a decorated object in itself, as when silver, gold, steel, or glass are engraved, or may provide an intaglio printing plate, of copper or another metal, for printing...

 copper
Copper
Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu and atomic number 29. It is a ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. Pure copper is soft and malleable; an exposed surface has a reddish-orange tarnish...

 board depicting the Last Supper
Last Supper
The Last Supper is the final meal that, according to Christian belief, Jesus shared with his Twelve Apostles in Jerusalem before his crucifixion. The Last Supper provides the scriptural basis for the Eucharist, also known as "communion" or "the Lord's Supper".The First Epistle to the Corinthians is...

. The board aroused interest of the tsar who instructed Sagradov to return to Persia and hire the engraver into tsar's service. Muscovite artists were only experimenting with engravings on metal, and the tsar needed a professional to set up the new craft. The copper board was, most likely, a Western European product, however, Sagradov responded that he can hire at least an apprentice of the author. Six years later Saltanov, "the apprentice", arrived in Moscow with his brother, joined the staff of the Armoury and received a high salary. He was treated as a foreign noble
Nobility
Nobility is a social class which possesses more acknowledged privileges or eminence than members of most other classes in a society, membership therein typically being hereditary. The privileges associated with nobility may constitute substantial advantages over or relative to non-nobles, or may be...

, an honor rarely issued without reason. The artist converted to Russian Orthodoxy eight years later: conversion was equivalent to an oath of loyalty to the Romanovs and earned him the honors of a Russian noble, but also prevented the artist from ever leaving Russia. His brother, Stepan Saltanov, also became a Russian noble, a treasurer of the Armoury and a founder of the Saltanov family.

Bogdan Saltanov became the last court painter
Court painter
A court painter was an artist who painted for the members of a royal or noble family, sometimes on a fixed salary and on an exclusive basis where the artist was not supposed to undertake other work. Especially in the late Middle Ages, they were often given the office of valet de chambre...

 hired before the death of Simon Ushakov
Simon Ushakov
Simon Fyodorovich Ushakov was a leading Russian graphic artist of the late 17th-century. Together with Fyodor Zubov and Fyodor Rozhnov, he is associated with the comprehensive reform of the Russian Orthodox Church undertaken by Patriarch Nikon.-Biography:We know almost nothing about the early...

, the undisputed leader of Muscovite art school. Ushakov rated Saltanov's skills as mediocre. Saltanov was the fourth foreign artist employed by the Moscow court (after the Swede Johann Deterson, hired in 1643, Pole
Poles
thumb|right|180px|The state flag of [[Poland]] as used by Polish government and diplomatic authoritiesThe Polish people, or Poles , are a nation indigenous to Poland. They are united by the Polish language, which belongs to the historical Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages of Central Europe...

 Stanislaw Loputsky and Dutchman
Dutchman
Dutchman can refer to:* A person of Dutch descent.** A derogatory term for an Afrikaner from South Africa.* A Dutchman is a strip of material used to cover the join between two flats...

 Daniel Wouchters). When Stanislaw Loputsky, chief of the court painters, left Moscow in 1670s, his job was awarded to Ivan Bezmin with Saltanov second in command; Saltanov took the lead in 1686 following repressions against Bezmin. All the Slavic chiefs of painters' workshop, including Simon Ushakov, were naturally born nobles, and apparently Saltanov was also recognized as such. Saltanov's earliest attested work were the tafta icons - icons painted on cloth with partial cloth application imitating garments of the saints. Igor Grabar suggested that this new genre
Genre
Genre , Greek: genos, γένος) is the term for any category of literature or other forms of art or culture, e.g. music, and in general, any type of discourse, whether written or spoken, audial or visual, based on some set of stylistic criteria. Genres are formed by conventions that change over time...

 of icon was Saltanov's own invention owing to his Oriental roots, but admitted that the painting itself was mediocre. "These strange tafta masters, so non-Russian in spirit, thought and feeling, terminated the history of Russian icon art" .

Bezmin and Saltanov, as the workshop chiefs, were also teachers and mentors to the next generation of artists; there are 37 known trainees of Bezmin and 23 trainees of Saltanov, including Karp Zolotaryov
Karp Zolotaryov
Karp Ivanovich Zolotaryov was a Muscovite painter, interior designer and wood carver, employed by Posolsky prikaz and the Kremlin Armoury. Zolotaryov was the author of iconostasis of the Transfiguration church in Novodevichy Convent and the Church of the Intercession at Fili and the icons of...

. Their status at the court was radically different from that of traditional icon painters: Saltanov's primary function was to provide secular art for the court, not the church. Even when the subject of a painting was clearly religious, its treatment was a step away from icon tradition into a "westernized", secular art. The earliest royal commissions of this kind (secular icons on copper and glass base) to Saltanov are attested to 1670 and 1671, and 1679 for Bezmin. As a result of this practice of 1670s, the professions of court painters and icon painters in Moscow nearly merged, with court painters actively taking over the icon painters' church jobs.

Saltanov died in Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

 in 1703; assumptions that he left the country and returned to his homeland are now deemed incorrect. He was married twice, and his second wife was reported alive in 1716.

Attribution problem


Saltanov remains a controversial figure: his activities in Moscow are extensively documented through extant archive records, but no single piece of art has been undisputably attributed to the artist. Saltanov, unlike Karp Zolotaryov
Karp Zolotaryov
Karp Ivanovich Zolotaryov was a Muscovite painter, interior designer and wood carver, employed by Posolsky prikaz and the Kremlin Armoury. Zolotaryov was the author of iconostasis of the Transfiguration church in Novodevichy Convent and the Church of the Intercession at Fili and the icons of...

, never signed his works, thus attribution is based on archive records kept by court accountants. All opinions on his artistic style are not more reliable than the underlying attribution of his least questionable works - the tafta icons and the portrait of Feodor III of Russia
Feodor III of Russia
Feodor III Alexeevich of Russia was the Tsar of all Russia between 1676 and 1682....

.

The portrait of Feodor III of Russia
Feodor III of Russia
Feodor III Alexeevich of Russia was the Tsar of all Russia between 1676 and 1682....

 was commissioned by Sophia Alekseyevna
Sophia Alekseyevna
Sophia Alekseyevna was a regent of Russian Tsardom who allied herself with a singularly capable courtier and politician, Prince Vasily Galitzine, to install herself as a regent during the minority of her brothers, Peter the Great and Ivan V...

 in 1685 to Simon Ushakov and Ivan Maksimov, but both these icon painters declined the job, and it passed to Saltanov. The absence of records confirming payment for the job to Saltanov led Elena Ovchinnikova to assert in 1956 that it was not Saltanov's work at all (she attributed it to Bezmin). For the next decades her opinion prevailed, but authors like Kazaryan (1969) and Komashko (2003) returned the credit to Saltanov.

Attribution of the Cross of Kiy icon from the Crucifix church in Moscow Kremlin and its copies is equally disputed. Tradition starting with the 1907 work by A. I. Uspensky attributes these icons (or at least the original "Cross of Kiy") to Saltanov. Komashko (2003) refutes this attribution: the court records say that Saltanov painted a similar image of a crucifix
Crucifix
A crucifix is an independent image of Jesus on the cross with a representation of Jesus' body, referred to in English as the corpus , as distinct from a cross with no body....

but not the cross.