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Еxhibition: Milyo Baltov. The Romantic Image of Faith. 150th Anniversary of the Artist’s Birth

Vaska Emanouilova Gallery (subsidiary of Sofia City Art Gallery) 15, Yanko Sakazov Blvd. +359 2 944 11 75; +0879545008;,

Milyo Baltov. The Romantic Image of Faith. 150th Anniversary of the Artist’s Birth

14 December 2021 – 27 February 2022
Exhibition opening: 14 December, Tuesday, 5– 8 pm, Vaska Emanouilova Gallery


The exhibition is held within the framework of the Restoration of Memory program of the Vaska Emanouilova Gallery. Launched in 2012, the program aims to restore the memory of unknown or forgotten Bulgarian artists. Milyo Baltov is an early 20th century artist, whose work is an intriguing contribution to the genre of academic church art, yet he is unknown to the public.

Artist and community leader Milyo Baltov has remained an indelible part of the cultural history of the city of Strelcha through the icons and murals at the St. Michael the Archangel Cathedral, as well as through the museum collection of the Strelcha Museum of History featuring some thirty works by the artist. Plenty of decorative and iconographic works kept at temples throughout the Pazardzhik region also bear his signature. His voluminous work as an artist and decorator matches the rise in temple-building activity after the Liberation of Bulgaria prompted by the attempt to make each of the newly-built churches look as presentable as possible. Many of the chapels and churches decorated by Milyo Baltov are dedicated to Archangel Michael commemorating to this day the fallen of wars. Many of the icons painted by the artist feature the images of historical figures, while others have attained the status of miracle-working icons.

Milyo Baltov studied at the State the School of Drawing, in the latter’s second class, under Prof. Yaroslav Veshin. Lessons learned from the professor can be traced in the portraits and icons by the artist who stuck to them regardless of the twists of fate and his social responsibilities: attention to line expressiveness, building three-dimensionality, interest in plasticity and volume, search for befitting lighting, effort for sophisticated classical composition and pose, attempt to attain solid compelling colourfulness, efficient use of chiaroscuro and tonal values, etc.

Today, thanks to research done by the Strelcha Museum of History, we may add the name of artist Milyo Baltov to the list of prominent representatives of an intriguing period of transition in the history of Bulgarian art. A prospective study of his life will seek to collect and systematize as large a part of Milyo Baltov’s work as it is possible by tracking down icons, murals and decorations completed outside his home region, as well as by making a clearer outline of the complex turns taken by ideas in visual art.

This exhibition was brought to life in cooperation with the Strelcha Museum of History, the Stanislav Dospevski Pazardzhik City Art Gallery, the SS. Cyril and Methodius National Library, and private collectors.


Milyo Baltov, Landscape, 1913, oil on canvas, 22 x 77 cm, Strelcha Museum of History

Milyo Baltov, Portrait of Dena Baltova (daughter of the artist), early twentieth century, oil on canvas, 30 x 23.5 cm, Strelcha Museum of History

Milyo Baltov, Portrait of a child, early 20th century, m. B., Canvas, 29.5 x 23.5 cm, Strelcha Museum of History

Milyo Baltov, Marin Drinov, early 20th century, print, 38.5 x 31.5 cm., Museum of History – Strelcha

Milyo Baltov, St. Michael the Archangel, 170 x 71 cm, St. Michael the Archangel Cathedral, Strelcha