Eastern Europe, Russia, ca. first half of the 19th century CE. A breathtaking festal icon in egg tempera, gold leaf, and gesso on wood featuring the Resurrection, the "feast of feasts" celebrated not only on Easter but every Sunday, as the primary theme. The center image shows two main scenes from the life of Christ and several smaller scenes from His life. The first and highest is His Resurrection, where he stands centrally atop his tomb. In the lower left corner is the red, monstrous head of Satan/the Hell Mouth, opened as Christ, again located in the center, leads the Harrowing of Hell, freeing the souls trapped there. Size: 17.75" W x 21" H (45.1 cm x 53.3 cm)
The smaller scenes include the Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene, Peter examining Christ's tomb, doubting Thomas touching Christ's wounds, Christ greeting John the Baptist, and Christ and Peter on the Sea of Galilee in a boat. Numerous witnesses - all named with black paint on their halos (though not very legible) - are present, rising diagonally from left to right behind the figure of Christ in Anastasis. Surrounding this are 12 scenes depicting the events of Holy Thursday and Holy Friday.
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. 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."
Provenance: ex-Francis & Lilly Robicsek collection, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA
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