2 December 2009
ROSTOV REGION, FIRST THIRD OF THE 17TH CENTURY
75 by 40.5 cm.
Both icons come from the same Prophetic Tier of an iconostasis designed for a large church. The complex ogee-shaped panel is typical of the 1620s-40s, particularly for the north-western regions of Russia. The prophets (David, who is wearing a crown, and Jacob) are depicted holding scrolls with Old Testament prophecies concerning the Mother of God and the Incarnation of Christ. They are also accompanied with the allegoric symbols with which the Virgin is compared in Old Testament texts: David has the Temple or the Ark of the Covenant; Jacob has the Ladder (now barely visible). Such Prophetic Tiers containing Marian symbols became popular from the second half of the 16th century.
Considerable damage to the upper layer of the painting makes the identification of the artistic school of this ensemble difficult. However, the loftiness of the smooth silhouettes of the figures, elegantly and precisely incorporated into the complex field of the panel, and the soft rendering of the faces and a muted palette with red, green and brown as the dominant colours all suggest the work of central Russian artists, most likely from Rostov, who in the first half of the 17th century were supplying icons for the vast areas of central and northern Russia. The symmetric pairing of the images and their origin from one tier makes this pair of icons particularly important.
Notes on symbols:
* Indicates 5% Import Duty Charge applies.
Ω Indicates 20% Import Duty Charge applies.
§ Indicates Artist's Resale Right applies.
† Indicates Standard VAT scheme applies, and the rate of 20% VAT will be charged on both hammer price and premium.