The Savior, Great High Priest


Beginning in the 15th century, icons of Christ depicted as the Great High Priest were common in Russian churches and were often placed in the center of an iconostasis. The Shustovs were a renowned family of icon-painters and this icon, The Savior, Great High Priest marks a radical departure from the traditional image of Christ. Shustovs’ rendition of Christ resembles the gala portrait of a Tsar in his formal, beautifully embroidered dress, sitting on a skillfully carved throne that is decorated with the symbols of the four evangelists: an angel, a calf, a lion and an eagle. It is such portraits that Peter the Great wanted Russian artists to produce when he sent scores of them abroad to master Western art. In the mid-18th century, Peter the Great’s westernizing influences were beginning to take root not only in the imperial capital of St. Petersburg, but also in the provinces.