Lot 8: 19th C. Near Mini Russian Icon - St. Alexander Svirsky

Artemis Gallery

March 23, 2017
Louisville, CO, US

More About this Item

Description: Russia, ca. 19th century CE. A sweet and petite rendition of the the appearance of the Holy Trinity ot St. Alexander Svirsky in egg tempera and gilt on wood. The Trinity appeared to St. Alexander in 1508, twenty-three years after he came to this secluded location. One night when he was praying in his cabin, a radiant light shone brightly, and the three haloed angels in billowing white robes approached him. Taken aback by this event, the monk fell down with fright. Once he came to again, he prostrated himself on the ground out of respect. The angels took him by the hand, said, "Have trust, blessed one, and fear not", and asked him to build a church and a monastery. He then fell to his knees, claiming to be unworthy; however, the Lord raised him up and firmly ordered him to fulfill the requests. Size: 3.25" W x 4.25" H (8.3 cm x 10.8 cm)

This icon most likely was purchased by a visitor to the sacred monastery and kept in someone's home. According to Jeanne Marie Warzeski, scholar and curator of the North Carolina Museum of History's "Windows into Heaven" exhibition, "In the early Byzantine Empire, the home became the primary base for the development of icon veneration. Throughout the ensuing centuries, icons continued to receive honor in homes and churches. To this day, many Orthodox Christians create for prayer and meditation in their home a krasny ugol, or “beautiful corner,” where family icons are placed. Guests entering a house customarily honor the icons in the corner by crossing themselves before the objects. An oil lamp is set near the icons and is lit daily, according to Orthodox tradition."

Icons (icon means "image" in Greek) are sacred objects within the Eastern Orthodox Christian tradition. Found in homes as well as churches, these painted images depict holy persons and saints as well as illustrate scenes from the Scriptures. Icons are not worshiped, but are instead venerated for their ability to focus the power of an individual's prayer to God. As a focus for prayers and meditation for believers, icons serve as “windows into heaven.”

Provenance: Ex-Francis & Lilly Robicsek Collection, Charlotte, NC

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Condition Report: Repaired from two pieces. Surface wear with minor losses of pigment and gold leaf. Verso shows chip at top center where former owner attempted to insert suspension hardware.
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