**Originally Listed At $2000**
Russia, ca. 19th century CE. Probably part of an iconostasis, this arched icon in egg tempera, gold leaf, and faux enamel on wood depicts the miracle-working St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, the most widely revered saint in Eastern Orthodox Christianity. Believed to possess special powers to protect the faithful, this archetypal Bishop and Saint is dressed in sumptuous episcopal vestments, with a cross adorned omophorion, giving benediction with his right hand and holding the Gospels in his left. Size: 22" W x 47.25" H (55.9 cm x 120 cm)
The faux enamel halo and stunning border of faux enamelwork, both in shades of blue, green, and white on a red ground, the border with Russian strapwork designs as well, add to the sacred nature of this icon. Nicholas, a Greek bishop of Myra, Anatolia in the 4th century and one of the most beloved saints of the church, who served as an intercessor, performing miracles of healing and rescue, has an interesting history. A strong opponent of the heretical bishop Arius at the Council of Nicaea, Nicholas, after slapping Arius in the face, was denied his holy insignia and tossed in jail. However, Christ and the Virgin appeared to him and gave him back his freedom and his episcopal office. Here shown with a serious countenance, a high furrowed forehead, concentrating eyes framed by arched brows, and a short, gray beard, Saint Nicholas is portrayed as a staunch champion of the Christian faith, a defender against heresy, and a healer.
Exhibited in "Windows Into Heaven: Russian Icons from the Lilly and Francis Robicsek Collection of Religious Art" at the Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte, North Carolina (December 20, 2003 through February 22, 2004) which presented highlights of one of the world's great artistic traditions through an extraordinary group of sixty-five 18th and 19th century Russian icons on loan from the private collection of Lilly and Francis Robicsek as well as the exhibition of the same name at the North Carolina Museum of History (October 4, 2013 through March 5, 2014).
Icons (icon means "image" in Greek) are sacred objects within the Eastern Orthodox Christian tradition. Found in homes as well as churches, these painted images depict holy persons and saints as well as illustrate scenes from the Scriptures. Some icons are encased in precious metal covers (oklads) adorned with pearls and semi-precious stones or glass-fronted wooden cases (kiots). Some are framed in decorative basmas. The composition of this example are surrounded by a stunning faux enamelwork border. Icons are not worshiped, but are instead venerated for their ability to focus the power of an individual's prayer to God. As such they are truly "windows into heaven."
The “Windows Into Heaven” exhibition profiled a magnificent chapter of Russian artistry, the embrace of the Russian Orthodox faith of religious icons during the Romanov centuries. The Russian religious faith was an offshoot of Byzantine Christianity, which in 1054 parted ways from Roman Catholicism. Icons were and continue to be religious images created for veneration. As a focus for prayers and meditation for believers, icons serve as “windows into heaven.”
Provenance: Ex-Francis & Lilly Robicsek Collection, Charlotte, NC, part of the Museum Exhibition, Windows into Heaven - Russian Icons from the Lilly and Francis Robicsek Collection of Religious Art, North Carolina Museum of History, Raleigh, NC.
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