4 June 2014 Russian Art Auctions

4 June 2014

Artist Index / Full Catalogue




33 by 27 cm.
30,000–40,000 GBP

Related literature: For similar works, see Ikony Yaroslavlya XIII – serediny XVII veka, Moscow, 2009, in 2 vol., p. 90, no. 127.
A. Rybakov, Vologodskaya icona. Tsentry khudozhestvennoi kultury zemli Vologodskoi XIII–XVIII vekov, Moscow, 1995, no. 154, 156.

The icon is an illustration of the opening lines of the troparion of St John of Damascus in honour of the Mother of God: ‘O Thou who art full of grace, the joy of every creature, the host of angels and the race of man. O Holy Temple and Paradise of the Word...’ At the centre of the complex, theologically rich composition is the image of the Mother of God and Child on a throne, surrounded by the glory of heaven, and behind her the angelic host and temple against a background of the Garden of Paradise. In the bottom part of the composition are representations of patriarchs, prophets, apostles, saints, martyrs and holy people. This icon also includes several additional depictions that are rarely encountered. In the middle tier, on the same level as the Mother of God, are portrayals in the archways of King David holding a harp (left) and the Good Thief with a cross (right). We find a similar addition of this composition in an icon of the second quarter of the 17th century from the Yaroslavl Museum of Art and in an icon of the early 18th century, from the Vologda Regional Museum. These two depictions are associated with the Mother of God being compared to a ‘holy temple’ (a similar prophetic symbolism is found in the psalms of David) and as ‘paradise of the word’ (cf. the Good Friday canticle: ‘Thou didst vouchsafe the wise thief, O Lord, to be straightway in paradise’). A further – and this time unique – addition to the composition are the Seven Sleeping Youths of Ephesus. This independent subject replaces the youths (three or one in number) depicted on some other icons, also on the bottom in the centre.

Also of interest is the temple, depicted with Baroque architectural features (a building divided into two tiers, the facade with decorative columns, pilasters, cartouches with swags, and cupolas to match ‘Ukrainian Baroque’). The Garden of Paradise is also more specific than had traditionally been the case: not with depictions of abstract flowers, but with trees of precise draughtsmanship, bearing paradisiacal apples. The Garden of Paradise motif is continued in the artistic rendition of the frame which has plant ornamentation in the form of a vine; two of whose branches split from a single stem on the bottom border and climb the side borders to come together again, thus embracing the icon’s whole composition.

The icon is notable for the great professional skill of its painting and the bringing together of ancient tradition with certain special, stylistic qualities of the Kremlin Armoury school to provide a splendid example of Muscovite icon painting of the Modern Era.

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.