At the crossroads of Byzantine, Scandinavian and Balkan trade routes and political influences, the first Russian state established at the end of the first millennium in Kiev was not only a prosperous federation of grand duchies and principalities; it became the birthplace of Russian culture and arts. From the late tenth century, with the arrival of Christianity, arts flourished in Kievan Rus - churches and palaces were built and decorated with frescoes, religious texts were translated and copied under the patronage of the Grand Princes; illuminated manuscripts, just like the Russian icons, evolved from the initial Byzantine model to genuinely Russian creations. Open to other influences and at the same time deeply innovative, Russian ornamentation contributed to the quest for aesthetic harmony and national self-representation. In the scriptoria of metropolitan or princely courts some of the truly magnificent manuscripts were compiled with the partiicpation of the most famous painters of the time, such as Theophan the Greek and Andrei Rublev.
This sourcebook is a wonderful compendium of decorative details derived from ancient manuscripts of the tenth to the sixteenth centuries. Originally published in 1870, the hundreds of examples included show an exuberant use of design and colour.