Lot 2: Exhibited 18th C. Russian Icon of Christ Emmanuel

Artemis Gallery

March 23, 2017
Louisville, CO, US

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Description: Russia, ca. 18th century CE. The young Christ depicted half-length in egg tempera and gold leaf on wood is dressed in pastel pink and blue robes, these cotton candy hues very characteristic of the 18th century color palette. Stunning gold leaf decorative trim adorns his collar and sash. The text beneath may refer to a passage of Isaiah that Christ read in the synagogue of Nazareth, “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings to the afflicted” (61:1) (Tradigo, 228) Size: 10.25" W x 12.25" H (26 cm x 31.1 cm)

The prophet Isaiah coined the term “Emmanuel” (7:14) which means “God is with us,” and this icon captures that sense of immediate presence. According to Alfredo Tradigo in his “Icons and Saints of the Eastern Orthodox Church, "We see not a child before us, but the mysterious, unknowable face of God, who is eternally young and old at once, as emphasized by the Church Fathers. The figure’s young age stands not for the Child but, rather, for the incorruptible, timeless youth of the sacrificial Lamb, daily renewed on the altar in the bloodless sacrifice of the Eucharist.” Tradigo continues to explain that the placement of an Emmanuel icon at the Cathedral of the Dormition in Moscow, in a Deesis over the northern doors of the iconostasis that lead to the prosthesis (the special room where these holy gifts are prepared) attests to this interpretation. (Tradigo, p. 227) The smooth-faced Christ Emmanuel is traditionally inserted in an angelic Deesis between Gabriel and Michael – the holy archangels who protect the Divine Liturgy). In some cases a grand ensemble of angels forms an assembly around Emmanuel.

Exhibited in "Windows Into Heaven: Russian Icons from the Lilly and Francis Robicsek Collection of Religious Art" at the Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte, North Carolina (December 20, 2003 through February 22, 2004) which presented highlights of one of the world's great artistic traditions through an extraordinary group of sixty-five 18th and 19th century Russian icons on loan from the private collection of Lilly and Francis Robicsek.

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. Some icons are encased in precious metal covers (oklads) adorned with pearls and semi-precious stones or glass-fronted wooden cases (kiots). Icons are not worshiped, but are instead venerated for their ability to focus the power of an individual's prayer to God. As such they are truly "windows into heaven."

The “Windows Into Heaven” exhibition profiled a magnificent chapter of Russian artistry, the embrace of the Russian Orthodox faith of religious icons during the Romanov centuries. The Russian religious faith was an offshoot of Byzantine Christianity, which in 1054 parted ways from Roman Catholicism. Icons were and continue to be religious images created for veneration. As a focus for prayers and meditation for believers, icons serve as “windows into heaven.”

Provenance: Ex-Lilly and Francis Robicsek Collection of Religious Art, Charlotte, NC; exhibited at Mint Museum of Art "Windows Into Heaven", Charlotte, North Carolina (December 20, 2003 through February 22, 2004)

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Condition Report: Image shows some expected wear with a few scuffs and losses commensurate with age. Missing one crossbar/back slat on verso. Inactive insect holes visible on verso. Mint Museum exhibition label on verso.
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