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Kondakov, Nikodim Pavlovich

    Full Name: Kondakov, Nikodim Pavlovich

    Other Names:

    • N. P. Kondakov

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 1844

    Date Died: 1925

    Place Born: Khalan, Amur Oblast, Russia

    Place Died: Prague, Praha, Hlavní Město, Czech Republic

    Home Country/ies: Russia

    Subject Area(s): Byzantine (culture or style), iconography, Medieval (European), and Modern (style or period)


    Byzantinist art historian and founder of modern art method for Byzantine studies primarily through iconography. He was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia, which is present-day Prague, Czech Republic. Kondakov attended Moscow University under Fedor Ivanovich Buslayev (1818-1897) between 1861 and 1865. He taught at the University of Odessa (1870-1888) spending summers traveling and researching Byzantine art. His first book, published in 1877 on Greek manuscript illumination, employed his characteristic approach to Byzantine art of envisioning a stylistic evolution through mapped on an artistic ideal. In 1888 Kondakov moved to St. Petersburg to teach at the university there. During this time, Kondakov began compiling material for the first art history of pre-Mongolian Russian art. He collaborated with Saloman Reinach in Antiquités de la Russie méridionale of 1891. His lectures greatly influenced among others, the future art historian Michael Ivanovitch Rostovtzeff. Between 1900-1917 he lectured at the Academy of Art in Petrograd continuing his concentration in Russian art. Students attending his lectures at this time included André Grabar. After the Bolshevik revolution he emigrated in 1920 to Prague where he taught at that university. After his death in 1925, his works found publication in translation before they appeared in his native Russian, such as the important The Russian Icon, 1927. His students included Dmitrii Vlas’evich Ainalov III. Kondakov established modern Byzantine art history. He organized a massive amount of Russian art, much of it largely unknown, employing iconographic principles to their study. Icons were cultural artifacts to Kondakov as much as art objects; his work places them in a historical background. He organized art by region or “common tendency” from which he portrayed an entire epoch. Kondakov’s importance was in the accumulation of knowledge about Byzantine and Russian art. His works are still a starting point for scholarship.

    Selected Bibliography

    [complete bibliography:] Kondakov, N. P. Vospominaniia i dumy. Moscow: Indrik, 2002, pp. 359-377; Histoire de l’art byzantin, considéré principalement dans les miniatures, par N. Kondakoff. éd. française originale, publiée par l’auteur, sur la traduction de M. Trawinski. 2 vols. Paris, 1886-1891; Russkiia drevnosti v pamiatnikakh iskusstva. 6 vols. St. Petersburg: A. Benke, 1889-1891; and Reinach, Saloman. Antiquités de la Russie méridionale. Paris: E. Leroux, 1891; Pamiatniki khristianskago iskusstva na Afonie. St. Petersburg: Izd. Imp. Akademii nauk, 1902; Ikonografiia gospoda boga i spasa nashego Iisusa Khrista. St. Petersburg: Tovarischestvo R. Golike i A. Vil’borg, 1905; Ikonografiia Bogomateri. 2 vols. St. Petersburg: Typografia Imperatorskoi Akademiia Nauk, 1914-15; The Russian Icon. Oxford: The Clarendon press, 1927.


    Kleinbauer, W. Eugene. Research Guide to the History of Western Art. Sources of Information in the Humanities, no. 2. Chicago: American Library Association, 1982, p. 61; Bazin, Germain. Histoire de l’histoire de l’art; de Vasari à nos jours. Paris: Albin Michel, 1986, p. 201; Dictionary of Art 18: 215-16; Kondakov, N. P. Vospominaniia i dumy. Moscow: Indrik, 2002; “Kondakov, Nikodim Pavlovich.” Entsiklopedicheskii slovar’. St. Petersburg: I. A. Efron, vol. 15, 1895: 927.

    Contributors: Lee Sorensen


    Lee Sorensen. "Kondakov, Nikodim Pavlovich." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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