8 June 2011
YAROSLAVL, END OF THE 17TH CENTURY.
29 by 24.5 cm.
The icon represents the most widespread recension of the Mother of God of Smolensk revered in Rus. This half-length version of the Hodegetria Mother of God was made more emotionally expressive in the 16th century by turning the Mother slightly towards the infant, who holds a scroll in his left hand, which rests on his knee and makes the gesture of benediction with two fingers of his right hand. A rare detail is the green colour of the infant’s himation, instead of ochre. The professional painting techniques used for the faces and the skilful arrangement of the garment folds and chrysography indicate that the icon was produced in a major icon painting centre. The fine oklad helps identify the place of production as Yaroslavl.
When we examine this particular artefact, we find all the characteristic devices used by the master craftsmen of Yaroslavl. The icon is adorned with a large, chased, pendant “tsata” neck-piece with a keel-shaped, scalloped bottom edge and a central round medallion of Christ Pantocrator. Especially revered icons of the Mother of God were decorated with tall, five-pointed open-work crowns, in the shape of an upturned keel, known as “koruna”. These became taller in the latter half of the 17th century with pairs of cherubim and seraphim and chased floral ornamentation covering all parts of the halo. This developed form of the koruna is displayed on our icon.
The eye-catching silver-gilt revetment literally overshadows the icon and is the most noteworthy feature of this artefact. The power and richness of the oklad, in its material and decorative sense, vividly illustrates the special qualities of Yaroslavl as a cultural centre, with its church-building, love of church decoration and joyous expression of icons.
The Smolensk Mother of God icon, as an integral piece by Yaroslavl masters, is a valuable and historic work of art of this school, which in every way was comparable to that of the capital.
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.