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Christian Icons

Christian icons take many forms, but their most common iterations are painted wooden panels. During the 4th century A.D., Christian theologians began writing extensively about their appearance and function during worship, but icons were likely in use as early as the 1st century A.D.

Byzantine Christians used icons as vehicles to guide their prayers to the divine, but many believed that images were idolatrous and that their use constituted an act of blasphemy. In 726, Emperor Leo III of the Byzantine Empire believed the practice of venerating icons had gone too far and launched a campaign of iconoclasm. He banned the use of icons and ordered the public to destruct all devotional pictures, leading to a period of more than one hundred years of civil unrest. In 843, however, Empress Theodora reversed the law and made the use of icons legal and acceptable once again.

Icons continued to play an important role in the Byzantine world until the collapse of the Empire in 1453, and they are still used by practicing Eastern Orthodox Christians today. Stylistic trends often indicate the geographic region where icons were made. For example, Russian icons are often encased with elaborately-engraved silver or gold frames.


Quick Facts

  • On November 30, 2015, Christie’s London sold a 1899-1908 silver-gilt cloisonné, champlevé, and en plein enamel triptych icon for $311,815
  • On November 24, 2008, Christie’s London sold an icon of the nativity of Christ c. 1400-1425, for $342,250
  • The "Virgin of Vladimir," c. 1130, housed in the Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, is one of the most valuable Christian icons to survive from the Byzantine period

Recommended Items at Auction

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A fine and early Russian silver and gilt framed painted icon
Feb 28, 10:00 AM CET
A fine and early Russian silver and gilt framed painted icon
by Ostantix Auctions
Est: €500- €700
€1,2008 Bids
A hand-painted icon from The Archangel Michael
Feb 28, 10:00 AM CET
A hand-painted icon from The Archangel Michael
by Ostantix Auctions
Est: €120- €150
€6506 Bids
Munira Al-Kazi "Icon" Etching on Paper, 1964
Mar 12, 11:00 AM EDT
Munira Al-Kazi "Icon" Etching on Paper, 1964
by Auctions at Showplace
Est: $200- $400
$6505 Bids
18th/19th Century Hand Painted Russian Icon 32cm x 26cm
Feb 25, 12:00 PM AEDT
18th/19th Century Hand Painted Russian Icon 32cm x 26cm
by Pottle Auctions
Est: AUD0- AUD0
AUD2755 Bids
Rare 18th/19th Century Hand Painted Russian Icon 31cm x 26cm
Feb 25, 12:00 PM AEDT
Rare 18th/19th Century Hand Painted Russian Icon 31cm x 26cm
by Pottle Auctions
Est: AUD0- AUD0
AUD2505 Bids
ICONA VENETO-CRETESE - Mother of God
Feb 23, 11:00 AM CET
ICONA VENETO-CRETESE - Mother of God
by Capitolium Art
Est: €200- €300
€4004 Bids
Ikone Gottesmutter Iwerskaja mit Silberoklad, Russland 1884
Mar 08, 10:00 AM CET
Ikone Gottesmutter Iwerskaja mit Silberoklad, Russland 1884
by K&K – Auktionen in Heidelberg
Est: €400- €500
€1103 Bids
Russisch-orthodoxe Ikone der Gottesmutter, Russland 19. Jh.
Mar 08, 10:00 AM CET
Russisch-orthodoxe Ikone der Gottesmutter, Russland 19. Jh.
by K&K – Auktionen in Heidelberg
Est: €250- €300
€1003 Bids
IKONE MIT HL. NIKOLAUS.
Feb 24, 10:00 AM CET
IKONE MIT HL. NIKOLAUS.
by Auktionshaus Wendl
Est: €0- €0
€1002 Bids
Ikonen-Triptychon und Zauberrolle, Äthiopien 17./18. Jh.
Mar 08, 10:00 AM CET
Ikonen-Triptychon und Zauberrolle, Äthiopien 17./18. Jh.
by K&K – Auktionen in Heidelberg
Est: €350- €400
€1102 Bids
Ikone
Feb 24, 11:00 AM CET
Ikone
by Auktionshaus Sieglin GmbH
Est: €0- €0
€1902 Bids
19th C Russian icon
Feb 22, 5:00 PM CET
19th C Russian icon
by Duran Arte y Subastas
Est: €0- €0
€1302 Bids
Griechisch-orthodoxe Ikone der "Drei Hierarchen", 18. Jh.
Mar 08, 10:00 AM CET
Griechisch-orthodoxe Ikone der "Drei Hierarchen", 18. Jh.
by K&K – Auktionen in Heidelberg
Est: €600- €800
€1902 Bids
Greek Icon of Saint Haralambos the Hieromartyr and Wonderworker
Feb 21, 10:00 AM EST
Greek Icon of Saint Haralambos the Hieromartyr and Wonderworker
by Doyle New York
Est: $700- $1,000
$4002 Bids
Orthodoxe Ikone St. Peter & St. Paul, Rumänien um 1800
Mar 08, 10:00 AM CET
Orthodoxe Ikone St. Peter & St. Paul, Rumänien um 1800
by K&K – Auktionen in Heidelberg
Est: €280- €350
€1002 Bids
Ikone Hl. Sergius (Sergej) von Radonesch (Radonezh), Russland um 1900
Mar 08, 10:00 AM CET
Ikone Hl. Sergius (Sergej) von Radonesch (Radonezh), Russland um 1900
by K&K – Auktionen in Heidelberg
Est: €300- €500
€602 Bids
ANTIQUE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX ICON IN 84 SILVER RIZA
Feb 24, 10:00 AM EST
ANTIQUE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX ICON IN 84 SILVER RIZA
by Antique Arena Inc
Est: $100- $150
$1002 Bids
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An Icon
Feb 27, 10:00 AM CET
An Icon
by Veilinghuis de Jager
Est: €300- €600
€2402 Bids
ICONA DEI SANTI ANTIPA E MICHA
Feb 22, 3:00 PM CET
ICONA DEI SANTI ANTIPA E MICHA
by DAMS Casa d'Aste
Est: €100- €150
€801 Bid
Russian Wooden Icon with Virgin Donskaya with Silver Basma
Mar 08, 12:00 PM GMT
Russian Wooden Icon with Virgin Donskaya with Silver Basma
by TimeLine Auctions
Est: £1,000- £1,400
£1,0001 Bid
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A Collection of 5 Icons
Feb 27, 10:00 AM CET
A Collection of 5 Icons
by Veilinghuis de Jager
Est: €120- €240
€801 Bid
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A Lot of 3 Icons
Feb 27, 10:00 AM CET
A Lot of 3 Icons
by Veilinghuis de Jager
Est: €160- €300
€1001 Bid
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A Lot of 3 Icons
Feb 27, 10:00 AM CET
A Lot of 3 Icons
by Veilinghuis de Jager
Est: €160- €300
€1001 Bid

Sellers Who Sell Christian Icons


Artmaximum

Artmaximum

Aste Boetto SRL

Aste Boetto SRL

Veilinghuis de Jager

Veilinghuis de Jager