MacDougall's Russian Art Auctions 8-9 June 2011

8 June 2011

Artist Index / Full Catalogue


12,000-15,000 GBP

89 by 46 cm.

The icon comes from the Prophets' row of a church iconostasis which often had an icon of the Mother of God enthroned in the centre and the Old Testament prophets, whose preaching and visions foretold events in the Gospels, bowed towards her in devotion.

The prophet Sofoniy (also known as Sophonias and Zephaniah) is one of the most mysterious of the Old Testament prophets. No information on his life exists, the only evidence for Sofoniy are his scriptural prophecies, especially the messianic prophecy contained in the hymn glorified by the Orthodox Church as praising Zion as the place the Messiah will appear.

Our icon presents Sofoniy as a devout preacher, he holds an unfurled scroll inscribed with his prophecy in his right hand and makes a devotional gesture towards the centre of the prophets’ row with his left hand. The figure of the prophet is cleverly portrayed with a vertically elongated form; the painting of the holy man’s face, hands and clothing is unusually fine and expressive, rendered in a palette of joyous and intense colour.

This icon is one of the best and most characteristic examples of Yaroslavl painting in the latter half of the 18th century.

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.