Main Differences between Greek and Russian Orthodox Icons

What are the main differences between Greek and Russian Orthodox icons? While they may look very similar, there are certain features that can help you distinguish icons created in Greece and Russia. We have compiled a short list of the most important differences to facilitate this task for you. So what are they?

Main Differences between Greek and Russian Orthodox Icons


1. Russian iconographers use subdued and restrained colors in their work, while Greeks prefer bright and radiant colors with a sharp contrast.

2. Russian iconographers focus on the multiplicity of lines and give the color a subordinate role. Greeks, in their turn, give the color a special role, using different shades and light to indicate shoulders, hips, and knees of the depicted figures.

3. The Russian style of painting icons is expressionistic, while the Greek is more naturalistic.

4. Greek icons depict figures with normal proportions of the body. Russian icons are known for showing Jesus Christ and saints as long-limbed and narrow-shouldered figures with big eyes.

5. Finally, Greek Orthodox icons employ the Greek language to indicate the depicted figures, while Russian icons are labeled in Church Slavonic and usually have specific abbreviations.

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