PhD Dissertations

Bradić, Teodora. Metropolitan Mihailo Jovanović and the Transfer of Russian Sacral Art to the Principality/Kingdom of Serbia (1859–1898)

The main goal of the doctoral dissertation Metropolitan Mihailo Jovanović and the transfer of Russian sacral art to the Principality/Kingdom of Serbia (1859–1898) is to research and analyze the influence of Russian sacral art on Serbian church art and the multifaceted role of Metropolitan Mihailo Jovanović in that process. The time frame covered by the doctoral dissertation is from 1859, when the metropolitan was appointed to the metropolitan throne, until his death in 1898. The research is based on a methodological approach that is currently used in Serbian science, which examines the history of art and visual culture from a historical-artistic perspective. This will redefine the previous value categories in the historical-artistic research of Serbian art of the new century and bring new insights into the mutual relations between Serbian and Russian religious culture.
The actions of Metropolitan Mihailo Jovanović are reflected in the fact that he modeled the Serbian church on the Russian model. Russian ecclesiastical painting, which he became acquainted with during his studies under Metropolitan Mihailo, represented the ideal of Orthodox iconography. In it, he found dogmatic correctness in the presentation of events from biblical church history. By translating Russian theological literature into the Serbian language, educating Serbian theologians and artists in Russian seminaries, icon painting schools, and academies, as well as importing Russian icons and other liturgical vessels from Russia, Metropolitan Mihailo influenced the shaping and russification of the church art of the Principality/Kingdom of Serbia.

Through personal connections acquired during his education in Russia and correspondence with various Slavophile charitable societies and individuals from Russia, Metropolitan Mihailo attempted to procure religious vessels from this Orthodox country to Serbia, either as gifts or imports. By exerting control over the Serbian market of ecclesiastical objects and icons, he tried to shape the religious life of Serbia in emulation of Russia.

An important moment in the transfer of Russian sacral art was the Metropolitan’s visit to Russia in 1869. On that occasion, the metropolitan arranged the opening of the Church of the Serbian parish, in which, after its opening in 1874, donations were collected in the form of religious objects and money intended for Serbian temples in the Principality/Kingdom. Also, during the visit, the metropolitan arranged the importation of liturgical vessels and the arrival of two Russian icon painters in Serbia.

Metropolitan Mihailo Jovanović, as the supreme head of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the Principality/Kingdom of Serbia, supervised the construction and furnishing of temples, thereby influencing the development of church art by favoring artists trained in Russia. He distinguished himself as the founder of the Church of the Transfiguration of the Lord in Sokobanja, and also contributed to this and many other temples, through which he impacted the Russification of Serbian sacred art with his personal devotion.

Key words: Church art, Metropolitan Mihailo Jovanović, visual culture, Principality/Kingdom of Serbia

Field of Research: art history

Area of Expertise: art history and visual culture of the new century.