5 June 2013 Russian Art Auctions

5 June 2013

Artist Index / Full Catalogue




27 by 22.5 cm.
20,000–30,000 GBP

Provenance: Sold to the West from the Gatchina Palace and Museum through the All-Union Society Antikvariat in 1928-1934.
Private collection, Europe.

The icon is an exact copy of the Wonder-Working “Afonsky” image, still to be found at St. Anna’s Skete, Mount Athos. This, the oldest of the Mount Athos Sketes, was founded at the end of the 10th century and re-established in the 17th century by Dionysius, Patriarch of Constantinople, who had acquired the relic of St. Anna’s foot from the Christians of Asia Minor. In 1680, a Cathedral was built in memory of St. Anna’s dormition and from that time, the Skete has borne her name. It is subordinate to the Great Lavra and distinguished by its strict Rule and its host of new martyrs who suffered for Christ under Turkish rule. In addition to the Skete’s main sacred relic – the foot of the Righteous Anna – her Wonder-Working icon is also revered here. According to legend, it has the special benefit for infertile couples. The icon belongs to the popular “Afonsky” (Mount Athos) type and depicts St. Anna with the young Theotokos, who holds a flower.

The Russian Monastery of St Panteleimon, which had its own icon painting school, used to produce copies of Wonder-Working icons for the Russian faithful, either by commission or as gifts presented with the monastery’s blessing. This icon is just such a presentation. The back of the icon bears a small enamel plaque inscribed: “A humble presentation to Her Imperial Majesty the Sovereign Empress Maria Feodorovna from the Russian Afonsky Monastery of the Holy Martyr and Healer St. Panteleimon, May 1893”. In May 1893, the Empress Maria Feodorovna (1847-1928) was in Livadia with her husband and children; this icon may have been presented to the Empress by the Prior of the Novo-Afonsky Skete, which was a branch of the Athonite Monastery of St Panteleimon.

An icon linked with the Empress Maria Feodorovna is of great memorial significance and especially topical in the year of the House of Romanov’s quatercentenary celebrations.

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.