The monastery church of Kintsvisi, dedicated to St. Nicolas, is most famous for its brightly coloured monumental paintings: the backgrounds are painted entirely in lapis-lazuli. Figures are depicted in blues, warm browns, ochres and reds. Thanks to the portraits of three sovereigns – one of them being Queen Tamar – and the church’s donor, Prime Minister Antonij, these murals can be dated to before 1205 and rank, together with those of Timotesubani and Vardzia, among the most beautiful paintings of that period. The enthroned Virgin with child accompanied by angels and archangels is represented in the church’s apse, while the cross in the cupola is surrounded by a Deesis and also archangels. Medallions with the Evangelists adorn the pendentives, and a vast Christological cycle is depicted on the walls as is a St. Nicholas cycle. The building of the church of St. Nicholas is closely related to that of Timotesubani, with which it not only shares the architectural type – an inscribed-cross type building – but also the use of brick stone, which is quite unusual for the Georgian architecture of this period. Near the St. Nicholas church an apse of an other church, the Virgin’s church, has been preserved, which has presumably also been entirely painted. In this apse an enthroned Hodegetria is represented above a Communion of the Apostles. The Monastery of Kintsvisi is located about 35 km to the west of Gori.
Carved Cross and graffiti deer, 15th century (?), Lintel of the Northern Entrance of the St. Nicolas Church (Photo: Dror Maayan)
Portrait of an Evangelist, before 1205, St. Nicolas Church, Southeastern Pendantive of the Dome (Photo: Dror Maayan)
Enthroned Virgin with Child and Archangels, before 1205, St. Nicolas Church, Conch of the Eastern Apse (Photo: Dror Maayan)
Virgin Hodegetria (detail), Second half of the 13th century, St. Virgin’s Church, Conch of the Eastern Apse (Photo: Dror Maayan)