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The Fascination and the Reality

by Konrad Onasch and Annemarie Schnieper

ISBN: 1-878351-53-2
Price: $99.00

Cover illustration:
Mother of God Pelagonitissa (detail)
Makarije Zographos, 1422
Art Gallery, Skopje

This is a new work, published in German in 1995.
First English-language publication November 1997.

302 pages, 10"x13" ( 25 x 33 cm), linen binding, french-fold dust jacket.
More than 500 color illustrations integrated within the text.

The reality and mystery of icons is developed here in a way that is as fascinating as it is informative. Approximately 500 illustrations show the whole spectrum of icon painting, beginning with the origins of Christian fine art and the most important historical expressions of Byzantine and Russian tradition. This book offers a broad overview of the pictorial themes and includes information about how different types of icons are produced and used.

The great masterpieces and the classical pictorial types are presented here with representative examples chosen to show the historical and geographical diversity of style, material, and use in the rich tapestry of the world of icons. Many of the illustrations were photographed specifically for this work. The reader will find here a clearly outlined and exemplary selection of the rich, vast, inexhaustible world of icons.

All illustrations in this impressive volume are placed as closely as possible to the text. The author is an internationally acclaimed expert on icons.

He has immersed himself in the presuppositions of the world in which icons were created. Icons are indeed not as other-worldly and ahistorical as they might first appear--a fact that is emphasized in this work, leading to many surprising discoveries.

And so the brilliantly formulated text of this extremely knowledgeable author is anything but the usual dry and dusty study of a specialist. This presentation has grown out of the whole experience of an academic life. It is inspired by the tense, often dramatic history of the world of icons, a fascinating and enigmatic world. Concise information is combined with lively stories. The details gain color and profile from unexpected places. The aesthetic focus on icons, which are also works of art, is transfigured through the depth of faith expressed in these "divine images."

The Authors

Konrad Onasch, Ph.D., was Professor at Martin Luther University in Halle-Wittenberg, Germany from 1950 until being named Emeritus in 1981, and Head of Orthodox Studies and Dean of the Faculty of Christian Archeology and Ecclesiastical Art. In addition to his works on Dostoyevsky, he is known internationally for his work and numerous publications on icon painting.

Annemarie Schnieper-Muller, Ph.D., is an art historian, publisher's assistant, freelance journalist and editor.

Topics covered:


The Los Angeles Times Sunday Book Review, Jaroslav Pelikan12/7/97
...Even in a field in which sumptuous reproductions of images in gold and ivory are the rule, their work stands out as a visual feast, with more than 500 illustrations in full color and meticulous detail. Beyond the standard creations of Constantinople and Russia, lesser-known Orthodox venues such as Georgia, Bulgaria, Serbia and Romania are well represented. But it is clearly the text of the book, including the captions for the illustrated icons, that the authors intend to be their distinctive contribution...

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