**Originally Listed At $450**
Eastern Europe, Russia, ca. 19th century CE. A Russian Orthodox icon depicting the Nativity story in three scenes painted in egg tempera and gold leaf on wood. Mary and Joseph present the Christ Child while shepherds and animals (an ox and a horse) kneel in adoration set before a tranquil landscape. The visages and hands of all figures are nicely modeled and display strong emotion. However, the bodies and draperies display a push-pull between a voluminous quality inspired by the Western approach of the Renaissance and the relatively "flatter" Byzantine style. A finely composed and painted icon representing this sacred scene in which animals play a special role. Size: 16.625" L x 11.75" W (42.2 cm x 29.8 cm)
This icon most likely was kept in someone’s home. According to Jeanne Marie Warzeski, scholar and curator of the North Carolina Museum of History's "Windows into Heaven" exhibition, "In the early Byzantine Empire, the home became the primary base for the development of icon veneration. Throughout the ensuing centuries, icons continued to receive honor in homes and churches. To this day, many Orthodox Christians create for prayer and meditation in their home a krasny ugol, or “beautiful corner,” where family icons are placed. Guests entering a house customarily honor the icons in the corner by crossing themselves before the objects. An oil lamp is set near the icons and is lit daily, according to Orthodox tradition."
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 a focus for prayers and meditation for believers, icons serve as “windows into heaven.”
Provenance: private E. G. collection, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA
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