Nikodim Pavlovich Kondakov

Written by Никола Р. Казански
Nikodim Pavlovich Kondakov Nikodim Pavlovich Kondakov

November 01 (13), 1844 – February 17, 1925

Russian historian of Byzantine and Old Russian art, archaeologist, inventor of the iconographic method for the study of monuments of art.


Corresponding Member of St Petersburg Academy of Sciences (1892), Full Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences (1898) and Academician of St Petersburg Academy of Arts (1893).

Kondakov was born in the village of Ruskaya Khalan, Novooskolsky District, Kursk Governorate (guberniya). In the period 1861–1865 he studied at the Faculty of History and Philology of Moscow University under the tutorship of Fyodor Buslaev. After graduation, he taught at secondary schools, including at the Moscow Art School. In 1873, he defended a master’s thesis at the University of Moscow on ‘A monument with harpies from Asia Minor and the symbolism of Greek art’. In 1876, he defended his doctoral thesis on ‘The history of Byzantine art and iconography in miniatures from Greek manuscripts’.

In 1870, Kondakov was elected associate professor in the Department of Art History at the Novorossiysk University in Odessa (today’s Odessa I. I. Mechnikov National University) and in 1877 –a professor at the Novorossiysk University. From 1888 to 1897 he was a professor at the Department of Art History of Saint Petersburg Imperial University, and he also taught at the Saint Petersburg Higher Women’s Courses. From 1888 to 1893 he headed the Department of Medieval and Renaissance Art in the Hermitage Museum.

Kondakov emigrated to Constantinople in 1920 and then to Sofia. In 1920–1922, he lectured on medieval art and culture at Sofia University and studied monuments of art in Bulgaria. In Odessa and in Sofia Nikolay Okunev and Andrey Grabar studied under his tutorship. From 1922, Kondakov lived in Prague, where he taught at Charles University until his death in 1925. The circle of young scientists, known as Seminarium Kondakovianum, who had united around him, in 1931 was transformed into Kondakov Archaeological Institute.

Nikodim Kondakov was Honorary Member of BAS (1922), Honorary Member of the Slavic Charity Society in Bulgaria (1924) and holder of the Bulgarian Order of Civil Merit.

In 1895, together with Fyodor Uspenski, Kondakov founded the Russian Archaeological Institute of Constantinople, whose goals included the study of Macedonia. He published his studies in the book Macedonia. An Archaeological Journey (1909), dedicated to the history, archaeology and ethnography of Macedonia. In addition to the description of the archaeological monuments, Kondakov published his studies on the folk costume of the Macedonian Bulgarians, mainly on its ornamentation and colours. He believed that in ethnographic terms Bulgaria extended to Macedonia, including Ohrid.

Kondakov’ works contain a wealth of factual material with important studies on the relationship between Byzantine and ancient Russian art, and on the development of various iconographic types. He developed a method for the analysis and dating of monuments of medieval art. He also researched archaeological sites in the Bulgarian lands. The unique edition Byzantine Enamels. From the Collection of A.V. Zvenigorodsky. History and Monuments of Byzantine Enamel (1892) is kept in the Central Library of BAS. It was donated to the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences by the author himself, Academician Nikodim Pavlovich Kondakov, who lived in Bulgaria from 1919 to 1922, and was a professor at Sofia University and a Foreign Member of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. The book was a gift in gratitude for the deep respect, the special attention and the warm hospitality he experienced in Bulgaria.


  • Византийские церкви и памятники Константинополя. Одеса, 1887.
  • Русские древности в памятниках искусства. Санкт Петербург, 1889– 1897.
  • Византийские эмали. Собрание А.В. Звенигородского. История и памятники византийской эмали. Санкт Петербург, 1892.
  • О научных задачах истории древнерусского искусства. Санкт Петербург, 1899.
  • Македония : Археологическое путешествие. Санкт Петербург, 1909.
  • Иконография Богоматери. Т. 1–2. – Санкт Петербург, 1914.
  • The Russian Icon. Oxford, 1927.
  • Русская икона. Т. 1–4. Прага, 1928–1933.
  • Очерки и заметки по истории средневекового искусства и культуры. Прага, 1929.
  • Икони. София, 2009.
  • Iconographie de la Mère de Dieu. Roma, 2011.

About Nikodim Kondakov

  • Лазарев В. Н., Никодим Павлович Кондаков (1844—1925). Москва, 1925. 
  • Масленицин С., Академик Н. П. Кондаков. – Искусство, 1981, № 7, 62–67.
  • Баринов Д. А., Ростовцев Е. А., Кондаков Никодим Павлович. – Биографика СПбГУ.
  • Foletti, I.  From Byzantium to Holy Russia : Nikodim Kondakov (1844-1925) and the Invention of the Icon. Roma, 2017.


SESDiva ERA.Net RUS Plus Call 2017 – S&T

SESDiva. Project № 156

SESDiva aims at creating a virtual museum of written culture in relation to the social, religious, cultural, and ideological environment and relations between the South and East Slavs throughout the centuries from the 11th to the beginning of the 20th century.

Duration: 2018-2020
Program: ERA.Net RUS Plus Call 2017 ‐ S&T Projects