An Icon for Peter the Great: Linking Imperial Cartography and Sacred Topography
This paper investigates intersections between piety, imperial expansion, and military cartography in an icon presented to Peter I in 1698. It explores a rare convergence of Christian and imperial narratives. The icon was produced in Ukraine, which long served as a bridge between the west and the world of the Russian court, and offered to Peter I by a Ukrainian monastery as a diplomatic gift to commemorate his first triumph, the capture of the Ottoman town of Azov. The iconography if this nearly two-meter-tall image includes an unusual birds-eye view of the siege of Azov.
This innovative image actively participated in the invention of a new, Europeanized, imperial visual tradition in Russia. Furthermore, its seamless and insistent interweaving of imperial symbols, territorial expansion, and religious legitimization came from a contested territory that was in the process of being integrated into empire. Exploring a Ukrainian donor’s motivations for creating such an object, and taking seriously his aspirations for imperial patronage, enables us to understand aspects of empire often obscured in modern national narratives.
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Cosponsored by the Hermon Dunlap Smith Center for the History of Cartography.
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