The interior of the Vraćevšnica temple was painted for the first time during the construction in 1431, and after the suffering during the Turkish invasion of Serbian territories, during the Austrian rule, this fresco was renewed. As part of the works on the protection of wall paintings in the temple of the Vraćevšnica Monastery, by opening several smaller probes at different places and heights, research of the painted layer was performed in order to understand the scope of the 18th century renovation and determine the condition of the original wall paintings. It turned out that in the lowest belt of the plinth there is an older layer of frescoes, visible in some places, over which, in 1737, a thinner layer of fresco plaster was applied in order to re-paint. In places such as the north wall of the passage from the narthex to the nave, where two layers of plaster overlap, one from the previous day with the one applied the next, there are three layers of plaster, which certainly does not mean that the temple is painted three, but in this lowest zone, only twice. On the lower, original fresco, despite the fragments of small dimensions, it could be concluded that a different ornamental decoration was painted in the plinth, which painters in the 18th century did not consider particularly valuable to be repeated. All the probes opened in the higher zones of the nave or narthex, on the vault, in the altar apse or on the side walls of the church, clearly showed that it was just one layer of painted plaster, below which the rough surface of the wall can be seen.





It could therefore be concluded that the painters employed by Abbot Mihailo in Vraćevšnica in 1737 found the original painting on the walls of the temple, damaged in the lower zones by physical interventions, and in the upper zones by possible fire, which is why they undertook its complete removal. In a state of greater filth, faded and altered color, darkened by candles, such frescoes no longer conveyed theological messages or testified to the meaning of Christ’s sacrifice and the essence of faith to which illustrated scenes and prominent Christians represented. The decision to remove it would certainly have to be made by the monks, and it included the procedure of re-plastering the walls, applying a thin finer layer of fresco plaster, then ironing it, setting the iconographic layout by transferring drawings and painting the walls. to the lowest zone of the plinth. One of the painters who worked in Vraćevšnica, Georgije Ranite, with the help of his brother Grigorije, completely destroyed its original frescoes from the 16th century due to the painting of the nave and the altar space of the Church of the Tismane Monastery in 1732. Doubts about the possibility of making such a solution in the endowment of a prominent mining nobleman, about whom legends were spread during the Turkish period, glorification and respect were maintained, were also present in the work of conservators and researchers. It was assumed, however, that the experiences of Vlach painters, led by Andreja Andreović, could not influence the decision to destroy the older, once consecrated and therefore especially valuable frescoes for monks. Many different experiences have been preserved in many temples, which testify to the respect and appreciation of each painted particle of the previous layer and their preservation, and only as a last resort, they resorted to removing worn-out batches of wall paintings from the wall. , especially during the Middle Ages.

That the older frescoes from the 15th century were repeated on the interior walls of the Church of St. George is evidenced, above all, by the founder’s composition painted on the south wall of the narthex, in which the eminent nobleman Radic, patron of the church and his patron saint and blessings. Belief in the intercession of saints, present in the line of rulers Nemanjić, and then their successors, was used during the Middle Ages in the iconography of the founder’s compositions. The founders regularly addressed their patrons with prayers for help, and by raising endowments, they expressed their gratitude, which was especially emphasized in the programs of the mausoleum and the decoration related to their grave churches. Consistently conducted and thematically thought-out iconography of selected scenes, first around the founder’s composition, and more broadly in the preserved conception of the entire whole, filled with symbolic meanings in each segment, testifies to the clearly stated original intentions of the temple creator. When the appropriate time was indicated, and the then abbot provided the necessary funds, everything that was preserved from the wall paintings was repeated with additions and necessary additions. The designed and carefully assembled architectural whole, and then the messages filled with eschatological and soteriological symbolism, written on the walls of the planned funerary purpose, reflect the continuity of medieval development trends, preserved to a large extent in all subsequent renovations, even the one that repeated churches of Vračevo.

founder’s composition in which the eminent nobleman RadiČ, patron of the church and his patron saint sT. gEORGE  PRESENTING THE TEMPLE TO THE LORD CRIST


founder RadiČ POSTUPOVIĆ

It was well known in the 18th century that the aforementioned plans of the founders did not materialize and that, in the face of dangers from the Turks, the great leader Radic was forced to leave Serbia and end his life as a monk Roman in his second patron saint on the Holy Mountain. It was not possible to search for his grave in the Kastamonit Monastery, given the Mount Athos tradition according to which, three years after his death, the bones of the deceased are transferred from the grave to the common monastery ossuary. It was believed, however, even then in the 18th century, that the Turks prevented the realization of his intentions to end his life in his mining endowment, in which his earthly remains would then be permanently stored. The selection of displayed scenes and figures, the founder’s composition, as well as the literally transmitted text of the gift charter and the entire iconographic repertoire of clearly expressed original messages, testify to the persistence of the monastery brothers and abbots to preserve the values ​​of the original architectural building and the original layer of wall paintings.

Persistent and meticulous close-up observation makes it possible to see and recognize the process of retouching over existing damaged, faded frescoes, merely painting certain areas by refreshing the color with a reduced palette, roughly enhancing drawings, re-painting incarnations devoid of modeling, entering inaccurate details and excessive baroque , as well as reprinting damaged inscriptions without basic theological knowledge. Ignorance of the Serbian language and inaccuracies in the writing of signatures and inscriptions indicate the Greek origin of Radic’s painters and the later taking over of their signatures in the absence of attention, such as the adjective agios (ο αγιος)


Crucifixion of Christ

The iconostasis, which is still in the cathedral of the Vraćevšnica Monastery, was created during two historical periods. The older icons date from the time of the restoration of Abbot Mihailo, and the preserved inscription testifies that in 1754, the painters, among whom two painterly manuscripts can be distinguished, were led by a certain Stavro. It is assumed that he painted the cross with the Crucifixion of Christ and the icons of the Mother of God and St. John the Theologian, as well as the pedestal depicting Golgotha, the symbol of the evangelist Luke and the Old Testament prophets.


sT. JOHN the Theologian

Another painter, at the same time, painted Deisis with Christ, the Mother of God and St. John the Baptist, surrounded by twelve apostles on a frieze that fills a special belt in the width of the altar partition. Expressive faces, intense colors and rich decorative use of gold and ornamentation are the features of the mentioned painters who did not sign their works. 

lORD Christ


sT. JOHN the Baptist

The painter, who was hired in the 19th century to complete the entire iconostasis with the throne icons of the Mother of God, Christ, Saint Nicholas and John the Baptist, also remained unknown. It is noted that he belonged to the circle of selected artists that Prince Milos employed to rebuild the victims or to raise and decorate his new endowments in liberated Serbia. The inscriptions on each of the throne icons testify to the efforts of the Serbian prince, with the information that they were made in Kragujevac in 1824.

lORD Christ

Mother of God AND LITLLE LORD Christ

Saint Nicholas