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Lot 1549: Post Medieval Russian Baptismal Icon with Head of St Barbara

Antiquities: Day 3

by TimeLine Auctions

December 8, 2016

London, United Kingdom

Live Auction
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Description: 19th century AD. A rectangular wooden icon with tempera painted head of St. Barbara (???????), silver riza with platter and curtain, legend to the nimbus; stamped to one edge 'P.C' and '84'. 8.53 grams, 45 x 40mm (1 3/4 x 1 1/2"). Property of a lady; acquired from a London fine art gallery in the late 1990s. Saint Barbara was an early Christian saint and martyr, believed to live in the 3rd century. She is often portrayed holding a chalice, miniature tower or palm of martyrdom. As one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, Barbara continues to be a popular saint even in modern times as a patron of miners, engineers artillerymen and people working with explosives. The legend about her life says that her wealthy father Dioscorus kept her locked up in a tower in order to preserve her from the outside world. Having secretly become a Christian, she rejected an arranged marriage to a non-Christian man and confessed to her religion. Tortured and imprisoned, Barbara refused to give up her new faith and was condemned to death by beheading with her own father as the executioner. Despite quite detailed story, there is no reference to her in the authentic early Christian writings and it is possible that her legend was formed around 8th-9th century.

Condition Report: Fine condition.

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