Portrait of a painter hermit
George Ivanovitch Krug was born in Saint-Pétersbourg on January 5, 1908. Son of a protesting industrialist of Swedish extraction and of a Russian and orthodoxe mother, it was high in the religion Lutheran. It passed its childhood to Narva in Esthonie where its family settled in 1921. Its secondary studies, it followed them in the Russian college of this same city. There, it began its artistic formation while being initiated with the technique of the watercolour, in the workshop of the Semionov painter. Its finished studies, it entered in 1926 to the Technical school of Tallin the graphic workshop directed by Reindorf. It carried out there a series of engravings which were exposed among best work of the graduate pupils of the School. The National Museum of Tallin noticed its talented work and bought two of these etchings. It is the urban topic which it chooses at that time to illustrate its work: "modern city with the sinister walls, of the dark houses, deserted streets, enclosed as in a labyrinth".
In 1928, it passed to the school of private art of Tartu, in professor Glinka, thus wishing to improve in the oil-base paint. The single subject which it painted was the inhabitants of the Ondiraque. It is in 1931, which it emigrated in Paris where it attended the members of the old Russian Academy of painting. There in the 14th district of Paris, in a workshop impasse des Rouets, Gregoire Krug took share with the company of the young Russian artists. It is with one of them that it went to work and live in narrow communion. The famous painter of the "World of Art" Constantin Somov regularly came to find there to paint models there. It was the occasion for them to profit from the remarks and the invaluable councils of the Master. Let us announce besides that Gregoire Krug will be on several occasions, the host of Somov in Normandy. Among the drawings of Krug which were preserved, it several very is successful about it which represents the Master with his work. In the capital, it approached the Masters the avant-garde, N Gontcharova and Mr. Larionov. It is them which directed it towards creative research. Work of this time, we will retain in addition to its drafts representing the countryside Norman, his urban landscapes in particular of the Parisian zone with its dilapidated shacks and its tramps. On this topic, it also made miniatures engraved on paperboard and raised color. The few watercolours which remain us of a vast project of illustration of the "Nose" of Gogol, appear even more astonishing to us. Let us note two more other albums devoted one to the Trappist abbey of Bonnecombe, the other with the churches of Rome.
Its entry in the religious life was marked by its meeting in the years 1920 with the Father Lev Lipiérovski at the time of a congress of the Christian Action of the Russian Students with Petchory. The speeches held by this man of great faith, so strongly challenged George Ivanovitch that they led it to embrace Orthodoxy and caused in his spiritual life a radical change. After its arrival in Paris, it was among the burning defenders of the patriarchal Church of Moscow. He then became an active member of the Saint-Photius Brotherhood whose role was to safeguard on canonical and dogmatic bases the Unit of the Church. In 1933, the Athanase Father, prior of theSaint-Séraphin church of Sarov, street Lecourbe in Paris, charged it with painting a news iconostase for the church. This last associated this task his/her friend L Ouspienski. The two men are henceforth reflected to study the technique of the icon: George Ivanovitch will work then under the direction of the Sister Jeanne Reitlinger at theSaint-Serge Institute and at a Russian iconographe Fiodorov in Clichy. He will settle in Vanves in the church of the Holy Trinity, where he fulfills the functions of readers of psalms. Its spare time, it devoted it to the painting of the icon. Its creations were particularly noticed by the renewal of the compositions and the representations such: the Holy Trinity, the Acheïropoiéte Saver, the Mother of God, Holy Cène, Pantocrator Christ... It is spring 1948, 40 years old, that George Ivanovitch was made monk and accepted the name of Gregoire, of the saint monk Gregoire isographe of the Caves of Kiev to XIIe century.
Père Gregoire Krug lived 20 years in Skit du Saint-Esprit in the Mesnil-Saint-Denis, under the protection of his spiritual Père archimandrite Serge Chevitch. It is since 1950, that it began the frescos of the church. In the quietude of the prayer, only occupied by its religious painting, it reached a full spiritual harmony within the orthodoxe church. A French newspaper wrote in this connection: "Close to Paris, in Yvelines a hermit, the orthodoxe monk Gregoire Krug lived. He painted icons which were its prayer ". A series of low registers and many diseases struck Père Gregoire Krug. This one refused with any treatment, thus respecting the will of God and was placed under the protection of Sainte-Geneviève whom it will very often represent in his frescos. He died in Skit du Saint-Esprit on June 12, 1969, where he is buried behind the apse of the church.
Of its work we preserve great compositions which it affectionnait particularly. They decorate the walls of the orthodoxe churches of Saint-Séraphin of Sarov, street Lecourbe in Paris, Paroisse des Trois Saints Docteurs street Patel in Paris 15e, of Moisenay, the Holy Trinity in Vanves, but also in Clamart, Mongeron, Hauteville in Brittany and of the Hague (Netherlands).
Its best iconostase is that which it carried out for the old people's home of Noisy-the-Large. But the crowning of its work is indisputably the church of Saint-Esprit in the Mesnil-Saint-Denis where Père Gregoire Krug made practically all the interior ornamentation. Its "Notebooks of a painter of icons" were published in 1983.
Copyright © Olivier FAUVEAU - 2001