In 988 AD Prince Vladimir of Kiev brought Christianity to Russia’s loosely knit pagan tribes. He employed the new faith as a strategy for uniting the tribes in a common defense against invading enemies. Embracing the faith of Constantine, Vladimir established Eastern Orthodoxy as Russia’s official religion and encouraged its heavy use of Christian images in the form of icons and crosses.


Cast metal icons and crosses were inexpensive, durable and portable objects of veneration. Small crosses of brass or silver were given to infants at the time of baptism and were often worn for a lifetime. Brass crosses and icons depicting saints, Christ and the Virgin adorned every Russian family’s “beautiful corner”—the place in each home designated for spiritual devotions.In the middle of the seventeenth century, a great split occurred in the Russian Orthodox Church over changes made to the liturgy. This resulted in large factions breaking away from the state sponsored church. A group known as the “Old Believers” favored the use of metal icons and set up workshops throughout the countryside devoted to the production of these religious items.Despite a decree by Peter the Great in 1723 that forbade the production and sale of cast metal icons, they continued being made until the late nineteenth century.


Sacred Russian Castings chronicles the history of the Russian Church through these holy objects.

The Smolensk Mother of God
The Smolensk Mother of God

19th C. Brass, enamel. 25.6 x 22.6 x .5 cm

Metal Resurrection Icon
Metal Resurrection Icon

"Metal Resurrection Icon and Four Saints"; 19th c. Wood, brass.

Pectoral Cross
Pectoral Cross

17th C. Brass. 9.4 x 5.3 cm

The Smolensk Mother of God
The Smolensk Mother of God

19th C. Brass, enamel. 25.6 x 22.6 x .5 cm

installation of traveling exhibits of russian castings
installation of traveling exhibits of russian castings

Sacred Russian Castings Installation: Museum of Russian Icons, Clinton, MA. Exhibited: January - April 2012.

Photos by Peter Vanderwarker, 2012.


Mary Queen of the Universe Shrine Museum, Orlando, FL

Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, Gainsville, FL

Loveland Museum and Gallery, Loveland, CO

Pensacola Museum of Art, Pensacola, FL

Idaho Falls Arts Council, Idaho Falls, ID

San Angelo Museum of Fine Art, San Angelo, TX

Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Garden, Winter Park, FL

Museum of Russian Icons, Clinton, MA



March through May 1997

August 2000 through January 2001

January through March 2002

November 2002 through January 2003

November 2003 through January 2004

April through June 2004

September through November 2004

October 2011 through January 2012












203 brass and enameled icons, pectoral, processional and wall-mounted crosses, including painted icon panels with inserted metal crosses.


Moderate. Secure exhibit cases are required for all crosses, wall-mounted crosses, painted icons and hanging panels. Mounted crosses provided encased. Exhibit cases are not provided.


1000 - 1500 square feet


$800 / week