Located in the historical region of Levač, in south Šumadija, the Kalenić Monastery represents one of the finest monuments of Serbian medieval art, notable for its architecture and sculptural decoration, as well as its mural painting of exceptional quality. The katholikon of the monastery, the Church of the Presentation of the Mother of God, was built and painted between 1418 and 1427. According to the inscription beneath the founders' composition in the narthex made by an 18th-century monk named Gerasim, the church was built by Protovestiary Bogdan, his wife Milica, and brother Petar, during the reign of Despot Stefan Lazarević, who is also depicted alongside the ktetorial family.
The church belongs to the contracted cross-in-square type, with a dome and lateral apses- the type most frequently encountered in the churches of late medieval Serbia. The verticality of the building is accentuated by pilaster strips on the facade and an exceedingly tall dome above the nave of the church. Stone and bricks are laid out in even horizontal rows, while the checkerboard motif can be seen in the upper zones. The intricate architectural sculpture is concentrated on the windows, front sides of blind arcades and perforated rose windows, displaying figural imagery and geometric and floral ornaments.
Painting in the interior reveals the work of excellent draughtsmanship and refined chromatic effects, showing adaptation and enrichment of established iconographic models. Based on stylistic features, it is believed that the main artist responsible for the frescoes in the church of Kalenić is the painter by the name of Radoslav, the author of the miniatures of the Tetraevangelion of Vissarion. Since the church was without an adequate roof during Ottoman rule, much of the fresco painting in the interior had deteriorated, especially in the upper zones.
In the dome, fragments of the Heavenly Liturgy remain, as well as some of the figures of the prophets. Forefathers of Christ are painted on the soffits of arches underneath the dome, while vaults and topmost areas of the nave walls are filled with scenes from the cycle of Great Feasts. With the addition of two feasts of the Mother of God in the west bay- Her birth and Presentation, a contracted cycle devoted to Her was created. Also, in the north chantry, the scene of Deposition from the Cross is included, usually depicted within the Passion cycle. Miracles of Christ are represented in the lower zone of the nave, with the Wedding at Cana given particular attention in terms of the size of the composition and the inclusion of unique iconographic details. In the sanctuary, there is a partially preserved Resurrection cycle, while in the lower zone is the Liturgy of Archpriests and the Communion of Apostles depicted above. In the niche of the prothesis, a Dead Christ is painted. Among individual figures, holy martyrs are depicted, holy unmercenaries, warrior saints and archangels, and other saintly persons, including Saints Simeon and Sava. Some of the eremites are painted in the narthex, along with the Old Testament figures, as well as the portraits of the founders on the north wall. An extensive cycle of the Life of the Mother of God is painted on the narthex walls, containing some less commonly encountered scenes, such as the Census in Bethlehem.
On the exterior of the church, some remnants of the painting are preserved, which, together with the painted sculptural decoration, contributed to the polychromy of the facades. On the north wall of the narthex, there are remains of a monumental Holy Trinity. Originally, the lunette above the west portal was painted with the scene of the Presentation of the Mother of God, to which the church is dedicated. The mosaic icon that is presently there is a later-date addition.
Selected pictures in a short presentation. Go though them at your own pace or run a pre-built slideshow.
Collection of photographs of the monastery church, buildings, architectural decoration and wall painting.