25 November 2012
MOSCOW, OLD BELIEVERS' WORKSHOP, LAST QUARTER OF THE 19TH CENTURY .
66.5 by 53 cm.
The Mother of God of Vladimir image is the most ancient and revered in Rus. The annals ascribe a Byzantine origin to the icon, thus making it one of three Greek originals which served as the pattern for the first Russian icon painters who created the Russo-Byzantine style. Copies of the wonder-working image were made in great numbers from medieval times until the early 20th century, embellished by and encased in sumptuous oklads worked by jewellers. The icon offered here is a brilliant example of this.
The exquisite and stylistically restrained oklad was made in the 1880s in the Russo-Byzantine style, a typical feature of which was the replication of decorative devices from medieval artefacts. The gilded borders, halo and background of the oklad are covered in plant ornamentation worked in high-relief repoussé. The repoussé corner pieces with figures of the Evangelists refer us to the best work of 17th century Moscow silversmiths. The elegant halo, with its punched open-work finial, is decorated with cut stones of three colours.
The impeccable artistry of the oklad is not the dominant element of the icon; of equal importance is the painted portrayal of the Theotokos and Infant: it is fully revealed and a typical example of highly professional, fine and expressive painting in the icon-painting tradition of Old Russia. The large, expressive face of the Theotokos, the vertically lengthened proportions and the considerable dimensions impart a unique quality to the icon. These are a conspicuous reference to the wonder -working original, which before 1917, was kept in the Uspensky Cathedral at the Moscow Kremlin.
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.