Onufri was a 16th century painter who worked in and around Albania, best known for his Byzantine style icons. He also painted portraits, landscapes and churches. His place of birth is unknown, assumed to be Berat (Albania) or Argos (Greece)[1] or Kastoria (Greece)[2].



Little is known with certainty about Onufri's life and his existence only emerged in the early 20th century, through the work of Viktoria Pusanova.[3]

He was born in the early 16th century, not long after the anti-Ottoman wars of Skanderbeg and conquest of Albania. In the climate of the time, the painting of Christian icons can be seen as an act to restore pre-Ottoman culture.[4] He was active in Berat until 1547. Then he worked in both Berat and Kastoria (Greece) and in 1555, in Shelcan near Elbasan. After 1554, he lived and painted in the village of Valsh. His works were signed with the title "Protopapas" (Greek: Πρωτόπαππας), demonstrating a senior position in the church hierarchy.


Onufri introduced greater realism and individuality into facial expressions, breaking with the strict conventions of the time. He was the first to introduce the colour pink into icon painting. The secret of this colour was not passed on and died with him. His work is noted for the intense use of colours and the use of natural dyes.[5]

Onufri founded a school of painting in Albania, which was passed on to his son Nikolla, upon his death, and by Onouphrios Cypriotes and Konstandin Shpataraku.

Many of his paintings are stored and displayed at the Onufri Iconographic Museum in a former church in the old town of Berat.



  1. ^ Icons from the Orthodox Communities of Albania, catalog of the exhibition of the collection of icons of the National Museum of Medieval Art of Korce, held in Thessaloniki in 2006. Published by the European Centre of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Monuments - Museum of Byzantine Culture (Greece), pp. 20, 58-82
  2. ^ *Sisiou Ioannes (2007) The "Ancient of Days" as a separate iconographic concept of the painter Onouphrios in Kastoria. Recueil des travaux de l' Institut d' etudes byzantines XLIV, 2007, pp. 546, 547. In Greek language with abstract in Serbian.
  3. ^ Blumbach, Silke Liria (2001). The Icon Painter Onouphrios. 
  4. ^ Popa, Theofan. Ikona dhe miniatura mesjetare në Shqipëri. Tirana: 8 Nëntori, 1974.
  5. ^ Masters, Tom (2007). Eastern Europe. Lonely Planet. pp. 49. ISBN 1-74104-476-6. http://books.google.com/books?id=ZEWKJKR_eFgC. 

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