MacDougall Auctions 2-3 December 2009

2 Dec 2009

Artist Index / Full Catalogue


YAROSLAVL, LATE 17TH CENTURY TO CIRCA 1700

105. AN IMPORTANT ICON OF THE NATIVITY OF CHRIST

YAROSLAVL, LATE 17TH CENTURY TO CIRCA 1700

73.5 by 54.5 cm.
40,000-70,000 pounds



The iconography of this icon is based on one of the most detailed variations of the Nativity of Christ scene. This iconographic variant had been established in the icon-painting of Yaroslavl and Kostroma by the middle of the 17th century and became widespread in the art of the Volga region in the late 17th and the 18th centuries. The old content of Nativity icons (which included the adoration of the angels and shepherds, Joseph’s conversation with the elder, the journey of the Magi, and Joseph’s dream) was complemented by the new iconography, illustrating a number of the New Testament events that accompanied the birth of Christ: the appearance of the angels to the Magi, the adoration of the Magi, the conversation between Herod and the scribes, the Massacre of the Innocents in Bethlehem and the flight to Egypt.

Many details of the new scheme were borrowed from Western European woodcuts. In this case the composition is unconventional in its sparsity: traditional episodes such as the murder of Zachariah at the gates of the Temple of Jerusalem and Elizabeth’s hiding with the infant John the Baptist in the cave are absent and the figures are unusually large. This, as well as the regular ‘rhythm’ of the scenes within the icon-space, are reminiscent of wall-paintings and could have been based on the work of painters who decorated numerous Yaroslavl churches with frescoes between the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Because such monumental decorative projects usually took two or three decades to complete, the artistic tradition of the last quarter of the 17th century continued into the early decades of the 18th century. The styleand the particular features of this Nativity icon are very close to the fresco cycle of the northern porch in the church of Prophet Elijah in Yaroslavl, completed by Fyodor Fyodorov-Karpov and Fyodor Ignatiev with associates in 1715-16. It is very possible that this image was painted by the masters from the same artistic circle and about the same time and that it was intended as the patronal feast icon for one of the Yaroslavl churches. This icon is of high museum and artistic quality.


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.