Seeking Perfection in the World of Art

The Artistic Path of Father Sophrony

“One has to know technique, but one also needs to know art. An icon should be like a ‘painting’, like a prayer written with beautiful letters. We should make the faces of the icons attractive, so that the onlooker is able to pray. The icons should be like a trampoline towards eternal life.”


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Father Sophrony, Sergei Sakharov (1896-1993), started his life as a painter. He then became a monk, priest, spiritual director. He founded his own monastery and began to paint icons. The latter part of his life is well known, but his artistic path is still mainly unknown. The present book is an attempt to rectify this and to introduce Father Sophrony’s artistic vision and understanding.

“To paint an icon is like writing a poem; one cannot add or take away a single word. In the same way the icon should only contain the necessary, not too little, not too much.”



Chapter one
Formative years in Russia

Chapter two
Travels through Europe and settling in Paris

Chapter three
A change of heart and life

Chapter four
Creating his Monastery

Chapter five
Father Sophrony as an Iconographer

Catalogue of Drawings

1. A short outline of Russian history
2. Art schools after the revolution
3. The term faktura 
4. Kandinsky’s and father Sophrony’s writings
5. Russian artists mentioned in the text


Sister Gabriela studied iconography on the recommendation of St Sophrony before joining the monastery. She later assisted him in several artistic projects during the last years of his life. Her books are about what she learned while working with him on icons, church murals, and mosaics.

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Seeking Perfection in the World of Art
Seeking Perfection in the World of Art
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