Icons in Slovakia

Concept: Katarína Chmelinová

Icons found their permanent place in the permanent expositions of the gallery’s old art after the sporadic incorporation of these works in various exhibitions before the creation of a separate collection. Magda Keleti, at that time the curator of the old collections, outlined the first permanent exposition of iconographic works in 1976. In those days, the gallery could present its own small but interesting restored collection. However, due to an administrative decision, the number of icons in permanent expositions was reduced the next year and some them were sent to the castle in Zvolen. The re-installation occurred in 1981, when the collection of icons was supplemented by a long term loan of a 16th century painting of Archangel Michael from the Fine Art Gallery in Prešov. Complications with the permanent expositions were repeated. Their re-installation occurred in 1991 and new expositions with a collection of icons were re-opened for the general public in 1994. The Eastern Christian monuments were later re-installed; they were sent to Zvolen and then re-opened for the general public at the Bratislava exposition in June 1999. The current permanent exposition in a hall at Zvolen Castle is from 2001 and is the most representative group works of this relevant, but small collection. The oldest exhibited works are from the 16th century. They include the mandylion with the rare legend of King Abgar captured in four scenes on the framing banner and some chamber icons depicting apostles Mark and Matthew from Lukovo Venice. In 2002, after a difficult restoration, the large icon of the Last Judgment from Bogliarka directly dated in the painting in 1660s became the dominant work of the exposition. Moreover, this painting is marked by the initials of the master of the Carpathian circle, an iconographer with the initials C. Z., who is becoming increasingly famous and who also created the icon of Aaron of Kurov (1656).