The book presents a broad panoramic overview of church architecture in the Russian North between the fourteenth and nineteenth centuries. While it is inevitably overshadowed by the imperial splendour of the country’s capital cities, this unique phenomenon is regarded as the most distinctive national expression of traditional Russian artistic culture and at the same time as a significant part of humanity’s worldwide architectural heritage.
The chief intention of the book is to present the regionally specific features of the wooden churches of the Russian North, which vary from area to area for local natural or historical reasons. This approach touches upon the very important questions of thetypology and classification of the multiplicity of architectural forms. The "regional view" entails giving clear definitions of the ambiguous terms "architectural school" and "tradition", explaining the origins and shaping impulses for the different regional clusters of objects.
Structurally the book presents a history of the development of wooden church architecture in the Russian North and then follows the key points of the mediaeval Russian expansion along the waterways from Novgorod into the North – he Svir’ River, Lake Onego, the town of Kargopol’ and the River Onega, the White Sea, the Rivers Dvina, Pinega and Mezan’ – those areas that still retain the most splendid pieces of Russian regional wooden church architecture. The study is based on field research and provides an up-to-date, multi-faceted view of Russian wooden architecture.
Evgeny Khodakovsky is Head of the Department of Russian Art History at St Petersburg State University. He lectures on the history of the art and architecture of the Russian North, Russian mediaeval art, folk art, Norwegian wooden architecture and the history of restoration in Russia and Europe.