27 Nov 2013 Russian Art Auctions

27 November 2013

Artist Index / Full Catalogue




31 by 26.5 cm.
15,000–20,000 GBP

Related literature: For Bogatenkov biography and work, see M.P. Rakhmanova, “‘Byvshyi’ chelovek (pis’ma Ya.A. Bogatenko k V.V. Paskhalovu)”, Staroobryadchestvo v Rossii (XVII–XX veka), Moscow, 2010, issue 4, pp. 327–348.
E.A. Ageeva, “Dinastiya Bogatenko v kulturno-obschestvennoi zhizni Moskvy v pervoi treti XX veka”, Staroobryadchestvo v Rossii (XVII–XX veka), Moscow, 2010, issue 4, pp. 315–326.
E.M. Yuhimenko, V.V. Gorshkova, “Ikony vse samye prechudnye pis’ma samogo tonkogo”: Sobranie Griroriya Lepsa, Moscow, 2012, pp. 462–466.

The back of the icon is inscribed: “This icon was painted in the workshop of Ya.A.Bogatenkov in the month of May 1906.” Above this, there is another inscription: “This is an image of the Saints Cyril and Methodius, Patrons of the Saratov- Astrakhan Fellowship and Apostles of the Slavs.”

Yakov Bogatenkov (also known as Bogatenko, 1881–1941) was a prominent Old Believer icon painter and restorer, the owner of an icon painting workshop and one of the foremost figures of the Old Believers’ “golden decade”. Not later than 1900, Bogatenkov set up an icon painting and restoration workshop in Moscow which was awarded a silver medal in 1904 at the First National Exhibition of Icons in St. Petersburg. Orders were accepted “for the production of iconostases and icons in all styles in the spirit of the Old Believers”, as well as for external and internal church decoration and the restoration of old icons and iconostases. Only six works attributed to Bogatenkov are currently known of in museums and private collections, making the offered icon a rarity.

The commissioned nature of this icon gives it a special value; it was made for the Saratov-Astrahan Old Believers Fraternity of Saints Cyril and Methodius, Apostles of the Slavs. The Fraternity was founded in May–June 1905, shortly after the granting of civil liberties to Old Believers. The first annual meeting of the Fraternity was in June 1906, meaning that the icon was made during the Fraternity’s first year when it set itself large-scale educational and cultural objectives. The inclusion of Cyril and Methodius in the Fraternity’s name had particular significance and the reference to the founders of Russian Orthodoxy appealed to the Old Believers because it emphasized their continuity with the ancient traditions of the Church.

St Methodius (left) is depicted with a gospel book and making the double-fingered sign of the cross. St Cyril holds an open scroll in his right hand, which is in the centre of the composition. This unusual device is explained by the scroll which has the Cyrillic alphabet instead of a traditional text. It is important to note that images of Saints Cyril and Methodius are extremely rare: they are hardly ever found, even in Russian iconography of the late period.

The icon has undoubted museum value, particularly as 2013 marks the 1150th anniversary of the creation of the Slavic alphabet.

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.