I realize that the cycle of blog entries about the trip to Romania last year advances too slowly. There are a few reasons and a few excuses that I will not list here, but it may be a good outcome as well. As the memories sediment and the emotions I felt during that trip get some rest, I can better structure the story of this travel which was from many points of view different from any other trip I took recently. Here is the second stop we made in the second day of the trip, at the beautiful and so special monastery of Agapia.

 

The name of the monastery and of the neighboring village comes from the name of the hermit Agapie who according to the tradition built a wooden church in the second half of the 14th century in a place located about 2 kilometers from the current location. As the church was destroyed by a snow avalanche on a Easter Day, it was rebuilt close to the current place, and later in the 15th century a monks monastery was built around. Several kings of Moldavia donated lands and contributed to the building of the monastery and churches inside – Petru Rares, Alexandru and Bogdan Lapusneanu, Vasile Lupu, Petru Schiopu (the Lame). By the end of the 18th century the monastery is turned to the nuns, but it is almost completely destroyed by fire during the events of the Greek revolt and Russian occupation that followed.

 

It is after the destruction in 1821 that the monastery was rebuilt and took its present form. Painted in sparkling white the church of the monastery is not big in dimensions, but strong and elegant. The building is built on the foundation of stone, with thick impressive walls. The side wings, a new porch and the old narthex were added in 1858-1862. The roof is simple with a low inclination, pierced above the nave by a slender tower with octagonal base.

source http://www.viziteazaneamt.ro/2010/08/opera-lui-nicolae-grigorescu-la-manastirea-agapia/

 

The most impressive art elements in the monastery are the paintings of Nicolae Grigorescu, one of the most important names in the history of Romanian art, founder of the Romanian school of painting. Grigorescu was only 20 when he received this work, and between 1859 and 1861 painted the walls of the church leaving here an important mark for his artistic career, as well as for the whole Romanian church painting and art in general.

 

Iisus rugându-se în grădina Ghetsimani - source http://ro.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%C4%83n%C4%83stirea_Agapia

 

Inspiring himself from works of the great masters of the Renaissance, the artist added his own touch. As many other great artists dealing with Bible subject (El Greco comes the first to my mind) he took as models for the characters of the Gospels from the people he met around – nuns, monks, peasants. He added his personal touch as well as sensitivity and devotion for the subjects he dealt with.

 

source http://cadelnita.blogspot.com/2010/05/agapia-nicolae-grigorescu.html

 

The remarkable composition and dramatic power of telling the story are impressive in many of the more complex paintings.

 

Sfanta Treime - source http://ro.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fi%C8%99ier:Biserica_Agapia_-_SfTreime.JPG

 

Also exceptional are the way Grigorescu uses the architectonic details, paints every available space and corner and succeeds to provide to the ensemble a sense of complex beauty and monumental despite the relatively small dimensions of the church. Immediately after finishing the work at Agapia, Nicolae Grigorescu travelled to Paris, He studied at Ecole des Beaux-Arts, had Renoir as a colleague and Miller, Corot and Courbet as acquaintances, associating himself to the school of Barbizon and later to Impressionism. Back in Romania he painted on the front of the Romanian Independence War in 1877 and became the most important founding figure in the history of Romanian painting.

 

Back to the courtyard we could admire the museum of the monastery (with more works of the young Grigorescu) and the lodgement of the nuns, some available to visitors guests of the monastery. Church economy developed around the monastery, many of the nuns working on gardening and farming around – a tradition that also continues an older way of life and living.

 

However newer ways of communication are also present – as you can see in the photo of this nun talking on a mobile phone.