Revista „Cercetări istorice” – XXXVIII / 2019


Ioan Balomir was a Romanian painter, born in 1794 in Transylvania, which at the time was part of the Habsburg Empire. No special study has been published on him so far. The artist came to Iași, Moldavia’s capital, in 1816, where he made portraits and Orthodox icons, being active up to 1835. There is no telling where he learned the craft of painting, being considered more of an autodidact. He is one of the first church painters (icons and fresco) which make the transition to the easel painting. He didn’t sign his works and that is why it is very difficult to put together a portfolio of the artist’s works. Several works which are different as style were attributed to him, which required a clarification. The present study analyzes eight works whose author is likely to be Balomir, half of which weren’t taken into discussion anymore by the art historians. They are paintings from the collections of the Art Museum of Iași, the Museum of Moldavia’s Metropolitan Church, the Museum of Bukovina in Suceava and Romania’s Art Museum in Bucharest, as well as from Slovácké Muzeum, Uherské Hradiště, the Czech Republic. For the portrayed characters, there are written biographic and genealogic medallions, which offer the possibility to make some corrections concerning their identity or dating. We were able to establish which ones are portraits made after nature and which ones are simple copies, made after older family portraits. An important part of the painter’s work was represented by church painting. It was written that Balomir painted wood icons for the iconostasis as well as wall icons, painted directly on the walls of several churches. There were no such works identified up to the present. The Cultural Centre of Ruginoasa (Iași county) has a small museum preserving the feast icon of the Church of Annunciation, painted by Balomir, recovered from the church which was bombed in 1944. That is a good occasion to familiarize with the painter’s style and to identify other works which may have survived, without having been identified so far.