4 June 2014 Russian Art Auctions

4 June 2014

Artist Index / Full Catalogue




72.5 by 55 cm.
40,000–50,000 GBP

This icon is a work of the highest quality by an outstanding master. It represents the most developed version of a so-called “Cloud” Dormition. The apostles are depicted rapt in wonder at the bedside of the Mother of God and also in the upper part of the composition, flying-in on clouds towards Jerusalem from various lands. The first portrayal of this kind in Rus is encountered in an early 13th century icon from the Desyatinny Monastery Church of the Nativity of the Mother of God near Novgorod (now in the State Tretyakov Gallery). Following an ancient narrative source, the artist depicted Thomas with the other apostles, though according to a later recension, Thomas only arrived in Jerusalem after the Mother of God’s funeral. The Old Believers’ held on to this distinctive feature found in the ancient version, as represented on the icon here (Thomas is shown twice: on the extreme right standing by the bed of the Mother of God and in the top right-hand corner, flying upon a cloud).

Other depictions on the icon also reflect the original ancient text: the composition includes Saint James of Jerusalem, the Lord’s brother (behind the Mother of God’s bed, holding a censer), Timothy of Edessa, Dionysius the Areopagite and Hierotheos of Athens (in the archways, in the third row), and also the wives and maidens of Jerusalem (in the archways, right and left). The soul of the Mother of God is depicted in the form of a swaddled baby in the arms of Christ; above, in the centre of the composition, is the Mother of God seated on a throne in heavenly glory and being exalted by angels.

The energy of the composition is enhanced by miniature painting of the finest quality which conveys the spiritual animation of each character. Thanks to its immaculate state of preservation, this historic artefact fully reflects the conception of the artist and may rightfully be considered a genuine masterpiece of late Russian icon painting.

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.