Collection of Icons Painted on Glass

This museum of icons painted on glass, named after the priest who collected them, is a true hidden gem.

The Muzeul Preot Zosim Oancea [Zosim Oancea Museum] in Sibiel holds the largest collection of icons painted on glass made by local peasants. These icons painted by Naïve artists represent a unique combination of Orthodox Christian tradition and Romanian folk painting. Father Zosim Oancea, who died in 2005, began collecting icons in 1969, of which six hundred are on display in the museum. The exhibition showcases the different themes and styles of this peculiar tradition. Of particular interest is the unusual composition on many of the museum’s icons: Virgin Mary is depicted in the foreground, while the crucified Jesus is in the background.

Unlike traditional icons painted on wood, these religious images were painted on glass using a 300-year-old method. Actually, the icon itself is painted as an inverted image on the back of a glass, a technique called revers glass painting. In addition to the paint, gold or silver foils were used for decoration. When finished, the painting was coated with varnish to protect it from moisture and then framed. These small, locally made icons on glass were much less expensive than the imported icons painted on wood.

In addition to the icons on glass, the museum also houses some important ancient books, such as the 16th-century Slavic liturgical text, as well as examples of local handicrafts, such as ceramic vases, embroidered textiles and antique furniture.

Next to the museum is the late-18th-century Biserica Sfânta Treime [Holy Trinity Church], which has a finely frescoed interior and time-worn graveyard.


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