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The showpiece medieval icons are completely absent (even the quasi-obligatory Rublyov 'Old Testament Trinity'!); instead, the popular icon-art of the three centuries preceding the Revolution - deeply unfashionable in the 20th century, generally dismissed by art history as styleless and repetitive - is displayed in all its variegation and (often) strangeness, and set in a context of 'high' art, of popular prints, book illus- trations, vernacular Western painting, etc.OLEG TARASOV Icon and Devotion Icon and Devotion Sacred Spaces in Imperial Russia O LEG TARASOV Translated and edited by Robin Milner-Gulland REAKTION BOOKS For Pauline Published by Reaktion Books Ltd 79 Farringdon Road London ecim 3JU, UK reaktionbooks uk First published in English in 2002 English translation ©Reaktion Books 2002 English translation by Robin Milner-Gulland All rights reserved No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publishers.Icons were thought of as accurate, realistic representations of holy personages and events from 10 ICON AND DEVOTION biblical times and subsequently; medieval people, visited by saints in their dreams, would recognize them from their iconic images.Icons almost occasioned a civil war in the East Roman (Byzantine) Empire, when in the early 8th century the state and Church authorities - follow- ing the Second Commandment, against 'graven images' and 'likenesses' (Exodus 20:4) - banned them, so instigating the long period of iconoclasm.

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Since negotiating this territory is best done with a fairly clear idea of what the word 'icon' implies, what follows is a brief account that may help the Western reader to get his or her bearings in the topic: naturally, many of the points touched on are greatly amplified in the course of Tarasov's study.Certainly he has at his fingertips the tools and methodology of conventional art history, as also a great knowledge of theology and iconography, all of which are put to good effect.

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