The depictions of the Guardian Angel with the accompanying inscription appeared in Russian iconography in the late 16th century, for example, on an icon by Nazari Savin (late 16th - early 17th centuries) from the collection of the Russiian Museum in St. Petersburg, carrying the inscription “Holy Angel of the Lord guards the soul and body of a sleeping man.” Comprehensive quotations from The Vision of St. Paul the Apostle on icon margins contained explanations of the complex iconograpic programm of the Guardian Angel. They describe the Guardian Angel as follows: «Носит Ангел Господень крестное ограждение, меч, душевное соблюдение, врагу оскудение...». One of the scenes portrays him blessing a man with his cross and brushing away Satan with a sword.
The images of the Guardian Angel became widespread in the second half of the 17th century under the influence of the Western European artistic tradition. He is traditionally depicted standing on a cloud, dressed in a green chiton and a cinnabar himation or a white robe, with a cross in the right hand and a sword in his left or with his right hand lifted in blessing, sometimes in prayer to Jesus Christ, with crossed hands on his chest.
Facial icons of the Guardian Angel are encountered in the 18th, and especially 19th century. His images are most frequently portrayed on “family” icons (some of which are of the Old-believer origin), on icon margins or in the center of a group of saints, whose names are the same as icon clients’ where they act as family patron saints and guardians.
Zhanna G. Belik,
Ph.D. in Art history, senior research fellow at the Andrei Rublyov Museum, custodian of the tempera painting collection.
Olga E. Savchenko,
research fellow at the Andrei Rublyov Museum.


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