Northern wooden sculpture
The art of engraving on wood was always on a high level in the forest northern territories. Tableware and all the elements of home were made of wood. Finno-Ugric people and the Slavs in old times had a cult wooden sculpture (idols). After conversion to Christianity the art of wooden sculpture didn’t disappear but underwent some changes. In the interior of northern churches especially in far churchyards and villages engraved images of the popular saints appeared.
Northern wooden sculpture as one of the branches of plastic folk art is of great interest. Most of such sculptures from museums of Vologda and Veliki Ustyug cities referred to the 18th century. The appearance of three-dimension wooden sculpture, religious in subject, certified the successes of conversion of Russian society to secular world in the 2nd half of 17th-beginning of the 18th centuries. Wooden sculpture belonging to the earlier times – 16th century – is also known.
Almost all the plots of wooden sculpture were borrowed from icon painting. It seems as the engravers tried to materialize the image reducing the distance between people and saints.
The wooden painted sculpture of the 18th century from Vologda and Veliki Ustyug museums chronologically referred to the period of baroque style. Made by the folk masters-engravers these sculptures acquired a certain dynamics and vitality. The style features of baroque are especially evident in picturesque interpretation of the garments pleats.
In direct connection with a total rising interest to the inner world of a man and human passions is a broad spread of engraved images of the «Christ in dungeon» in the 18th century. The origin of this sculpture composition went back to the German Gothic, to the arts of Lithuania and Poland. The statues of such type appeared in Russia under the influence of the Ukrainian and Belorussian masters but their wide spread in the North was prepared by the earlier experience of local folk art.
In the 18th century multi-figured engraved compositions were developed in the northern wooden plastic. At the end of the 17th – beginning of the 18th centuries big monasteries remained to be the leading centers of decorative engraving on wood made by the peasants from the neighborhood big and small villages.
The preserved monuments of northern wooden plastic open one more side of talent of Vologda masters, demonstrate a developed feeling of the beauty of a plastic form and certify their big achievements in the art of decorative treatment of wood.