1 декабря 2011
OLD BELIEVERS' WORKSHOP, MID 19TH CENTURY
31 by 25.5 cm each.
This lot is a complete festal tier, comprising the icons of the Twelve Great Feasts and the icon of the Resurrection and Descent into Hell. The icons were painted in the antique tradition for an iconostasis of old design (pre mid-17th century), which indicates that they were intended for an Old Believers’ place of worship. By the mid-19th century, with the Old Believers under severe pressure from the authorities, old churches being closed down and the Rogozhsky Cemetery, the main centre for the Old Believer priesthood, being sealed up, it was a rare thing to undertake a commission for a complete festal tier of this type.
The fact that the icons were produced in this quantity by a highly professional workshop and with gilded decoration, suggests that they were commissioned by a member of the merchant class, from whom the main custodians of the Old Believer communities and churches were drawn.
The icons are unquestionably of artistic value: they were painted using good exemplum icons which preserved slightly elongated figure proportions, a balanced composition and a palette based on combinations of red, green and gold. By virtue of the straightforward, vibrant colours, the tier creates a genuinely festive impression. The background details — hillocks, ledges, trees, buildings — are more graphically painted, which lends the entire composition a particular immediacy and liveliness that distinguishes it as the work of a true master.
All the icons are by the hand of one icon-painter, evident from the common painting technique and characteristic detail such as the two-coloured lozenges (red or black with white) painted on the rock ledges (in the “Nativity of Christ”, “The Resurrection”, “Crucifixion”, “Trinity”, and “Transfiguration”).
The thirteen festal tier icons are a most interesting example of 19th century Old Believer painting, which maintained the icon-painting traditions of Old Russia. The magnificent state of preservation of the icons makes them particularly valuable.
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.