On June 14, an exhibition of sacred art from the Bogdan and Varvara Khanenko Museum was opened in the Louvre. The communications manager of the museum, Daria Sukhostavets, told Kyiv Post that four ancient icons dating back to the 6th and 7th centuries, which are considered to represent a key development in the history of painting, are included in the exhibition.
“In 1941, the museum received four exceptional icons of the 6th-7th centuries: ‘Saints Sergius and Bacchus,’ ‘St. John the Baptist,’ ‘Mother of God and Child’, and ‘Saints Plato and Glyceria.’ All of them will be presented at the exhibition in the Louvre,” says Daria Sukhostavets.
These icons are exceptional pieces, not only because of their antiquity, but also because they originally came from the monastery of St. Catherine, on Mount Sinai. Researchers believe that only 30 such icons have survived. These 4 icons are the only examples of a group that is always exhibited together.
One of the icons lent by the Kyiv museum is that of Sergei and Vakhko. This ancient icon depicts officers who were closely associated with the Roman emperor Maximian Herculius, from about 300 A.D. who were condemned as Christians and tortured because of their faith in Syria. Elements of the church began honoring them as saints and at the start of the reign of Justian (527-565) a church was built in their honor in Constantinople. To this day, the memory of Saints Sergius and Vakhko are celebrated on October 7.
“It is interesting that these saints are considered representatives of the LGBT + community. In the month of pride, it is important for us that this particular plot was chosen as the key one and put on the poster,” says Sukhostavets.
“Saints Sergius and Vahk”
In addition to these works of art, the Icon of St. Nicholas from the late 7th century, made using a technique known as micromosaic, where tiny multi-colored stones are used to vreat the image of the famous saint is also being exhibited.
“The Khanenko couple acquired this micromosaic icon of St. Nicholas during in one of their many travels,” Daria Sukhostavets told the Kyiv Post.
The Louvre in Paris has begun the study of the Byzantine world heritage, in preparation for the opening of its department of dedicated to the art of Byzantium and Christianity in the East in 2027.
The exhibition of unique icons from the Khanenko Museum is the first international collaboration of this department.
The texts for the exhibition in the Louvre are presented in English, French and Ukrainian.
“As far as I know, this is the first time that the texts are presented in Ukrainian. But in this case it could not be otherwise, because this is a joint project of Ukrainian and French museums,” Sukhostavets said on Radio Cultura.
In thanking the French for the cooperation and support of Ukraine during the broadcast she went on to say:
"We are grateful to our partners for their support, understanding and proper context regarding not only research work and cooperation with Ukraine, but also their statements regarding the war. In the press release in French, they call the war a war, and Russia an aggressor. "
The exhibition will run until Nov. 6, 2023
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