28 Dec 2015

**The Creation and Adam and Eve’s story in the late medieval art in Bulgaria

01 August, 2013 – 01 February, 2016

Author: Asst. Prof. Margarita Kuyumdjieva. PhD, Fine Arts Department

Subject of research: this project seeks to examine the representations related to the biblical story of the Creation of the world, of the creation of Adam and Eve, their fall from grace and their life following the expulsion from Paradise in church wall painting within the lands of contemporary Bulgaria. The focus is on two mural cycles at the Church of Nativity in Arbanasi and the Church of St George in Veliko Tyrnovо, as well as on the representations on the plinth panels of the iconostasis in the naos at the Church of Nativity in Arbanasi.
Timeline: The timeline set by the main material accentuates the seventeenth and the early eighteenth century, but earlier material will be widely involved in the study.
1. Stage of exploration.
The issue has not been especially studied for the time being. Several representations have been considered in publications on certain sites of Byzantine and post-Byzantine art in books of more general content. Examples of painting across Bulgarian lands have been studied to a certain degree in my doctoral thesis of 2002, but I have never published the results of that work. Some time ago, Sv. Rutseva published an article on the Creation cycle at the Church of St George in Veliko Tyrnovо. I believe, however, that elaboration is indispensable concerning our sites, especially if placed in a broader context.
2. Scientific novelty.
– Information: Material from our lands that has not been collected and systematised in terms of the theme; using comparative material from other sites of Orthodox art within a wide geographic area, part of which has not been studied for the time being either. No special study exists in foreign literature on the subject of the Creation and the story of Adam and Eve.
– Ideas and interpretation: The relations between the images and the respective biblical texts will be examined, the existing relevant apocrypha and the theological interpretations to establish the significance of these subject matters in Christian worldview. The reasons for the renewed interest in these subjects across Christendom in various ages will be traced out, as well as their possible ideological messages. Consequently, the specifics of the extant Bulgarian versions will be analysed as well, making a point of both their functions in the church and the possible art models that have influenced the process of their creation. To this end, examples of visualisation of these subjects in the art within the lands of Russia, Romania and Greece will be used in the study. There presentation in the same study would facilitate a deeper view of the development of these images in Christian painting, which is the main task of the proposed planned project.
– Methodology: Iconographic, iconological and comparative analyses will be used to explore the representations. Information from the fields of history, theology, liturgy and literature will be drawn to achieve the set goals. Using this interdisciplinary approach, the representations will be considered in direct relation to the context of their creation, which allows for a more extensive study of the problems.

3. Goals and scientific applications:
Goals: Gathering material and interpretation
Scientific application:
– History of culture;
– History of religion.