Pushkin House has just signed a historic agreement with The Russian Museum in St Petersburg. The museum’s vast collections are now viewable via a special Virtual Branch situated in the library. This resource goes hand in hand with their brand new lecture series ‘Ten Centuries of Russian Art: in Search of Identity’ running from October 2011 to May 2012. The first lecture takes place on Tuesday 25th of October at 7.30pm with a talk by Andrew Spira entitled ‘Icons and the Sacred Art of Russia’. Despite the fact that Russian icons are widely appreciated for their beauty, they are still little understood. This talk will address the nature of icon painting, exploring how it emerged from the glory of the Byzantine world and became a distinctive expression of the Orthodox spirituality of Russia. It will examine the complex symbolic and sacramental meanings of icons, as well as their fate during the years of westernization under Peter and Catherine the Great and their inspirational role in the development of modern Russian art Andrew Spira graduated from the Courtauld Institute of Art before completing a MA degree in Museum and Gallery Management at City University, London. He specialises in Russian art, publishing The Avant-Garde Icon: Russian Avant-Garde Art and the Icon Painting Tradition in 2008. He has been a Course Director at Christie’s Education since 2004. His latest book is on the influence of Russian icons on Russian avant-garde art: The Avant-Garde Icon, Russian Avant-Garde Art and the Icon Painting Tradition(October 2008). http://www.pushkinhouse.org/en/events/icons-and-the-sacred-art-of-russia