MacDougall Auctions 2-3 December 2009

2 Dec 2009

Artist Index / Full Catalogue


CENTRAL RUSSIA OR ARKHANGELSK, SECOND HALF TO LAST THIRD OF THE 16TH CENTURY

44. AN IMPORTANT ICON OF ST NICHOLAS

CENTRAL RUSSIA OR ARKHANGELSK, SECOND HALF TO LAST THIRD OF THE 16TH CENTURY

66 by 50 cm.
20,000-30,000 pounds



Provenance: The Temple Gallery.
Private collection, Europe.

In this icon the traditional Russian image of the half-length figure of St Nicholas, accompanied by an illustration of the Miracle of Nicea, has received a very unusual artistic interpretation. His rather squat figure, with narrow shoulders and disproportionally oversized head, is cramped between the two large and bright vermilion celestial segments, which unusually depict full-length (instead of conventional half-length) images of Christ and the Mother of God, the latter handing the omophorion to the holy bishop. All these features testify to the provincial origin of the icon. Its composition, the “folkloric” rendering of the image and the use of earth pigments and red ochre, as well as the roughly cut pine panel, all point to the icon’s northern provenance, most likely from the Arkhangelsk region. Such an image of St Nicholas, naive yet steadfast in faith, an infallible and reliable protector of the common people, almost another god for the peasants, was typical of the unsophisticated, devout and sincere style of village artists. As the majority of wooden churches, chapels and hermitages of northern Russia were dedicated to St Nicholas, and the present icon must have been used to decorate one such ecclesiastical building. This icon has numerous analogies in the collection of the Fine Art Museum of Arkhangelsk.


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.