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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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Antique Eastern Orthodox Giltwood Icon
Jun 29, 10:00 AM EDT
Antique Eastern Orthodox Giltwood Icon
by Roland Auctions NY
Est: $400- $600
$55014 Bids
A Russian icon of St Nicholas the Wondermaker of M…
Jun 26, 10:30 AM BST
A Russian icon of St Nicholas the Wondermaker of M…
by Roseberys
Est: £250- £350
£60012 Bids
Religious Icon Lot
Jul 06, 10:00 AM EDT
Religious Icon Lot
by Copake Auction Inc.
Est: $75- $100
$20011 Bids
Antique Orthodox Giltwood Icon
Jun 29, 10:00 AM EDT
Antique Orthodox Giltwood Icon
by Roland Auctions NY
Est: $800- $1,000
$37510 Bids
Russian Icon, Russian Silver and Enamel Oklad
Jun 26, 10:00 AM EDT
Russian Icon, Russian Silver and Enamel Oklad
by Brunk Auctions
Est: $1,000- $2,000
$1,4006 Bids
Icon with silver oklad, Christ as Pantocrator,Russia, end
Jun 29, 2:30 PM CEST
Icon with silver oklad, Christ as Pantocrator,Russia, end
by Henry's Auktionshaus
Est: €180- €300
€2403 Bids
Travel Icon
Jun 27, 10:00 AM CEST
Travel Icon
by Nagel Auction
Est: €200- €300
€1603 Bids
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RUSSIAN GOLD GROUND ICON SHOWING THE FEASTDAYS OF THE CHURCH YEAR
Jun 29, 10:00 AM CEST
RUSSIAN GOLD GROUND ICON SHOWING THE FEASTDAYS OF THE CHURCH YEAR
by Galerie Moenius
Est: CHF400- CHF800
CHF4002 Bids
Icon with Silver oklad, Virgin Mother of Tikhvin
Jun 29, 2:30 PM CEST
Icon with Silver oklad, Virgin Mother of Tikhvin
by Henry's Auktionshaus
Est: €180- €300
€2002 Bids
ANTIQUE 18TH C RUSSIAN ICON OF TRINITY IN KOVCHEG
Jul 06, 10:00 AM EDT
ANTIQUE 18TH C RUSSIAN ICON OF TRINITY IN KOVCHEG
by Antique Arena Inc
Est: $100- $150
$602 Bids
Icon with oklad, Christ with God the Father & the Apostles
Jul 02, 5:00 PM CEST
Icon with oklad, Christ with God the Father & the Apostles
by Tiberius Auctions
Est: €200- €400
€1702 Bids
Ikone 'Schwarze Madonna von Tschenstochau' / Icon 'Black Madonna of Częstochowa'
Jul 08, 9:00 AM CEST
Ikone 'Schwarze Madonna von Tschenstochau' / Icon 'Black Madonna of Częstochowa'
by Auktionshaus Schwab
Est: €80- €160
€801 Bid
Religious (4) Paintings and Icon Framed
Jun 26, 9:00 AM PDT
Religious (4) Paintings and Icon Framed
by Grant Zahajko Auctions, LLC
Est: $50- $100
$301 Bid
ICONA RAFFIGURANTE CRISTO CON RIZA IN ARGENTO DORATO, MOSCA, 1862, ORAFO A. FROLOV O A. FULD
Jun 26, 2:15 PM CEST
ICONA RAFFIGURANTE CRISTO CON RIZA IN ARGENTO DORATO, MOSCA, 1862, ORAFO A. FROLOV O A. FULD
by Wannenes Art Auctions
Est: €1,000- €2,000
€1,0001 Bid
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RARE GREEK ICON SHOWING THE HEALING OF THE LAME
Jun 29, 10:00 AM CEST
RARE GREEK ICON SHOWING THE HEALING OF THE LAME
by Galerie Moenius
Est: CHF800- CHF1,600
CHF8001 Bid
ANTIQUE RUSSIAN SILVER ICON KAZAN MOTHER OF GOD
Jun 30, 10:00 AM EDT
ANTIQUE RUSSIAN SILVER ICON KAZAN MOTHER OF GOD
by Antique Arena Inc
Est: $100- $150
$501 Bid
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RUSSIAN SILVERED OKLAD ICON IN KIOT SHOWING THE MOURNING MOTHER OF GOD
Jun 29, 10:00 AM CEST
RUSSIAN SILVERED OKLAD ICON IN KIOT SHOWING THE MOURNING MOTHER OF GOD
by Galerie Moenius
Est: CHF300- CHF600
CHF3001 Bid
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RUSSIAN ICON SHOWING THE MOTHER OF GOD FROM A DEESIS GROUP
Jun 29, 10:00 AM CEST
RUSSIAN ICON SHOWING THE MOTHER OF GOD FROM A DEESIS GROUP
by Galerie Moenius
Est: CHF400- CHF800
CHF4001 Bid
ICONA RAFFIGURANTE IL MENOLOGIO DI MAGGIO, RUSSIA, XIX SECOLO
Jun 26, 2:15 PM CEST
ICONA RAFFIGURANTE IL MENOLOGIO DI MAGGIO, RUSSIA, XIX SECOLO
by Wannenes Art Auctions
Est: €200- €500
€2001 Bid
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GREEK ICON SHOWING ST. SPYRIDON
Jun 29, 10:00 AM CEST
GREEK ICON SHOWING ST. SPYRIDON
by Galerie Moenius
Est: CHF300- CHF600
CHF3001 Bid
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GREEK CION SHOWING THE BEHEADING OF ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST
Jun 29, 10:00 AM CEST
GREEK CION SHOWING THE BEHEADING OF ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST
by Galerie Moenius
Est: CHF150- CHF300
CHF1501 Bid
Religious Icon
Jul 06, 10:00 AM EDT
Religious Icon
by Copake Auction Inc.
Est: $150- $200
$701 Bid

Sellers Who Sell Christian Icons


Wannenes Art Auctions

Wannenes Art Auctions

Galerie Moenius

Galerie Moenius

Coutau-Begarie

Coutau-Begarie