Eastern Europe, Russia, ca. 19th century CE. Painted using egg tempura and then gilded, this is an icon depicting ten saints who are observed by a heavenly Mary and Christ Child. In the center are Saint Nicholas, with Saint James of Jerusalem to his left, and an angel bearing a shield. To the angel's right is a saint holding a spear, dressed in red. More saints stand behind these figures, each richly drawn and painted. These figures probably had special significance to the person who commissioned the icon. It is protected in a 20th century wood-framed glass case. Size: 13.25" W x 15.25" H (33.7 cm x 38.7 cm)
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) or as we see in this example, decorated with liberal gold leaf strapwork and faux enamelwork. 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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