Wednesday, November 23, 2016

20 Icons from the Bible, with footnotes, 7

Jerusalem, 19th century
Mother of pearl
18.8 x 15 cm
Private collection

Saint Peter (AD 30; d. between AD 64 and 68), also known as Simon Peter, Simeon, or Simōn, according to the New Testament, was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ, leaders of the early Christian Church. He is also the "Apostle of the Apostles", an honor 3rd-century theologian Hippolytus of Rome gave him, and the Roman Catholic Church considers him to be the first pope, ordained by Jesus in the "Rock of My Church" dialogue in Matthew 16:18. The ancient Christian churches all venerate Peter as a major saint and associate him with founding the Church of Antioch and later the Church in Rome, but differ about the authority of his various successors in present-day Christianity.

Originally a fisherman, he played a leadership role and was with Jesus during events witnessed by only a few apostles, such as the Transfiguration. According to the gospels, Peter confessed Jesus as the Messiah, was part of Jesus's inner circle, thrice denied Jesus and wept bitterly once he realised his deed, and preached on the day of Pentecost.

According to Christian tradition, Peter was crucified in Rome under Emperor Nero Augustus Caesar. It is traditionally held that he was crucified upside down at his own request, since he saw himself unworthy to be crucified in the same way as Jesus. Tradition holds that he was crucified at the site of the Clementine Chapel. More

Jerusalem, dated 1877 
Silver, chased and embossed and set with mother of pearl.
13 cm high
Private collection

THE ADORATION OF CHRIST. The fourteenth-century mystic Saint Bridget of Sweden recounted Christ's birth after experiencing a vision. The "great and ineffable light" she described as emanating from the Child is the center of this icon. The portrayal of this divine splendor allowed painters to convey the mystical aura of the event. More

Russian, circa 1900 
Oil on brass
16.5 x 20 cm 
Private collection

Venerable Sergius of Radonezh (Russian: 14 May 1314 – 25 September 1392), was one of the foremost Russian saints and mystics. Born to a noble family near Rostov, he was christened Bartholomew. At the age of fifteen, he fled with his family to Radonezh, near Moscow, to escape a campaign against Rostov by the rulers of Moscow. As their wealth was all but wiped out, the family became peasant farmers until 1335 when, after the death of his parents, he and his brother Stephen became hermits at Makovka. Stephen left to become a monk, and Sergius received a tonsure from a local abbot. Increasingly well-known as a profoundly spiritual figure in the Russian wilderness, he attracted followers and eventually organized them into a community that became the famed Holy Trinity Monastery. He was ordained at Pereyaslav Zalesky. Serving as abbot, he thus restored the great monastic tradition which had been destroyed some time before during the Mongol invasions of Russia. Sergius was soon joined by Stephen, who opposed his stern cenobitical regulations and caused Sergius to leave the community and to become a hermit again. As his departure brought swift decline to the monastery, Sergius was asked to return by none other than Alexis, metropolitan of Moscow. As he was respected by virtually every segment of society, Sergius was consulted by Prince flirnitry Donskoi of Moscow encouraging the ruler to embark upon the campaign against the Mongols which culminated in the triumphant Battle of Kulikovo (1380), thus breaking the Mongol domination of Russia, Sergius sought to build upon this victory by promoting peace among the ever-feuding Russian princes and building monasteries; in all he founded around forty monastic communities. In 1378 he declined the office of Metropolitan, resigning his abbacy in 1392 and dying six months later on September 25, Canonized in 1449, he is venerated as the fore-most saint in Russian history. More

Balkan, c. 18th century
Silver, chased, embossed and engraved
mounted on a wood panel
37.5 x 25.3 cm
Private collection

Italian School, 20th Century
The Madonna and Child 
oil on gold ground panel
32.8 x 25.2cm (12 15/16 x 9 15/16in).
Private collection

The figure group above is based on Matteo di Giovanni's work, now in Pinacoteca Nazionale di Siena (below). More

Matteo di Giovanni, Italian, c. 1430 - 1497
Madonna and Child with Angels and Cherubim, c. 1460/1465
Tempera on panel
9 x 58 cm (31 1/8 x 22 13/16 in.)
National Gallery of Art

This panel is enriched with gold; Matteo has framed his mother and child with angels and cherubim, but the surrounding figures crowd each other and overlap, creating several different planes in the picture space. Matteo's child, unlike the formal and regally clad boy, is an infant who grasps his mother's fingers. Their contact is direct—a caress under the chin—and their emotional tie more explicit. The mood, however, is one of wistful melancholy, expressed in the Virgin's lowered eyelids and reflected in the faces of the angels. The crowding of the figures and the disembodied heads of the cherubim contribute an unsettling sense of foreboding. Matteo's later paintings are marked by violent emotion. More

Matteo di Giovanni di Bartolo (c. 1430 – 1495) was an Italian Renaissance artist from the Sienese School. He was born in Borgo Sansepolcro, then is family relocated to Siena and he is firmly associated with the art of that city.

Documentation concerning the early phases of Matteo's life and career as an artist is scanty and nothing is recorded about his apprenticeship. In 1452, Matteo entered into partnership with the painter Giovanni di Pietro, and the two shared living quarters. Matteo, at this time, is recorded as having colored and gilded a sculpture of the Archangel Gabriel by the celebrated Sienese sculptor Jacopo della Quercia. Matteo and Giovanni also collaborated in the embellishment of organ shutters in the Siena Cathedral and in the decoration of the San Bernardino Chapel in that cathedral.

Matteo was selection as one of four Sienese painters who were to furnish altarpieces for the chapels of the Pienza Cathedral erected as part of the urban renewal of the town. For this prestigious commission Matteo painted three altarpieces, dating to the years 1460-62.

During his mature period, Matteo began to paint idyllic and naturalistic landscape scenes employing delicate, lyrical colors derived from the Umbrian school of painting. Matteo's brand of eclecticism tended to evolve from local taste and tradition. For this reason it is not surprising to find him producing delicate, sweet panels of the Madonna and Child, such as the panel from the Kress Collection now in the Columbia Museum of Art, depicting the Madonna and child with Saints Sebastian and Catherine of Siena, at almost the same moment that he was painting Judith with the Head of Holofernes (c.1490) now in the Indiana University Art Museum, Bloomington and the horrific events of The Massacre of the Innocents.

Matteo di Giovanni died in Siena in 1495. He is credited with teaching Guidoccio Cozzarelli (1450-1516/17) of Siena, an altarpice painter and miniaturist. More

Russian, Moscow, circa 1900 
Oil on metal. Overlaid with engraved silver oklads
Marked with city hallmark, assayer's mark, 84
4-7.2 cm high
Private collection

Comprising the Mother of God of the Sign, the Dormition of the Mother of God, St. Panteleimon und St. Seraphim of Sarov

Antique Russian Icon
Depicting Jesus Between two Saints
mixed metal overlay. 
Size: 7 x 6 inches
Private collection

Kuzma Konov,
A gem-set silver-gilt icon of Christ Pantocrator,  Moscow, 1908-1917
26 by 22.3cm, 10 5/8 by 8 3/4 in.

In Christian iconography, Christ Pantocrator refers to a specific depiction of Christ. Pantocrator, or Pantokrator, is used in this context, a translation of one of many names of God in Judaism.

When the Hebrew Bible was translated into Greek as the Septuagint, Pantokrator was used both for YHWH Sabaoth "Lord of Hosts" and for El Shaddai "God Almighty". In the New Testament, Pantokrator is used once by Paul. Aside from that one occurrence, John of Patmos is the only New Testament author to use the word Pantokrator. The author of the Book of Revelation uses the word nine times, and while the references to God and Christ in Revelation are at times interchangeable, Pantokrator appears to be reserved for God. More

Kuzma Konov was a silversmith and jeweller active in Moscow from 1891 until the Revolution, in 1917. He began as an apprentice and worked his way up, ascending to master and employing close to ninety craftsmen at the peak of his productivity. He was a favourite of the Imperial family, who avidly purchased his icons. His works can be found at the Museum of History of Religion in St Petersburg, at the Historical Museum and at the Armouries in Moscow, and at the Kaluga Regional Museum of Local Lore, located about 100 miles south-south-west of Moscow. More

Russia, Moskau, 1896-1908 (Petrus und Paulus
Hälfte 20. Jh. (Triptycha) Russian, Moscow, 1896-1908
4.5-6.6 cm high
Private collection

Oil on wood panel. Overlaid with a silver oklad. Marked with assayer's mark, 84 standard and master's mark. The silver and champlevé enamel triptychs bearing spurious Russian hallmarks. 

Dmitri Smirnov, Moscow, 1908-1917
 Christ Pantocrator, c. Moscow, 1899-1908
A parcel-gilt silver and enamel icon
26.8 by 22.3cm, 10 1/2 by 8 3/4 in.

 Christ Pantocrator, see above

Yaroslavskaya Mother of God, Moscow, circa 1895
Fabergé gem-set silver-gilt and enamel icon
32.3 by 28.5cm; 12 3/4 by 11 1/4 in.

The Yaroslavskaya Icon of the Mother of God entered the city it is named after in the 13th century. The original has not survived, but the proliferation of its copies in subsequent centuries attests to the icon’s popularity. It arrived in Yaroslavl at a difficult time, when the region was besieged by a series of Tatar-Mongol invasions, and became a prominent source of consolation and focus for prayer. Its oldest known version, from 1466, is part of the Tretyakov Gallery collection in Moscow. More

The Annunciation, Russia, 16th century
Tempera on panel, with silver basma
31.5 by 26.5cm, 12 3/8 by 10 3/8 in.

The Annunciation referred to as the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Annunciation of Our Lady, or the Annunciation of the Lord, is the Christian celebration of the announcement by the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary that she would conceive and become the mother of Jesus, the Son of God, marking his Incarnation. Gabriel told Mary to name her son Yehoshua , meaning "YHWH is salvation".

According to Luke 1:26, the Annunciation occurred "in the sixth month" of Elizabeth's pregnancy with John the Baptist. Many Christians observe this event with the Feast of the Annunciation on 25 March, an approximation of the northern vernal equinox nine full months before Christmas, the ceremonial birthday of Jesus. In England, this came to be known as Lady Day. It marked the new year until 1752. The 2nd-century writer Irenaeus of Lyon regarded the conception of Jesus as 25 March coinciding with the Passion. More

The Dormition, Russia, 17th century
Tempera on panel
32 by 26.5cm, 12 5/8 by 10 3/8 in

The Dormition of the Mother of God  is a Great Feast of the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches which commemorates the "falling asleep" or death of Mary the Theotokos ("Mother of God", literally translated as God-bearer), and her bodily resurrection before being taken up into heaven. It is celebrated on August 15 (August 28, N.S. for those following the Julian Calendar) as the Feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God. More

Doubting Thomas, Russia, circa 1700
Tempera on panel
31.5 by 28cm, 12 3/8 by 11in.

A doubting Thomas is a skeptic who refuses to believe without direct personal experience—a reference to the Apostle Thomas, who refused to believe that the resurrected Jesus had appeared to the ten other apostles, until he could see and feel the wounds received by Jesus on the cross.

In art, the episode (formally called the Incredulity of Thomas) has been frequently depicted since at least the 5th century, with its depiction reflecting a range of theological interpretations. More

Eleousa Mother of God,
flanked by two Warrior Saints and two Bishops, Greece, 18th century
Tempera on panel
35 by 45cm, 13 3/4 by 17 3/4 in.

The Eleusa (tenderness or showing mercy) is a type of depiction of the Virgin Mary in icons in which the infant Jesus Christ is nestled against her cheek. In the Western church the type is often known as the Virgin of Tenderness. More

The Virgin Enthroned 
surrounded by Prophets and The Virgin of the Burning Bush, Greece, 18th century
Tempera on panel
54 by 45cm, 21 1/4 by 17 3/4 in

The Virgin Enthroned symbolizes the mystery of the incarnation of Christ made man and the glory of the Mother of God. This justifies the intense expression of the countenances, the solemn attitudes of the Saints present at the glory of the Mother of God, the awed attention of the Archangels who "behold" the mystery of the incarnation. More
The subject of Our Lady of the Burning Bush is based on the Old Testament prophecy of the incarnation of Christ. Such theologians as St Gregory of Nyssa and Theodoret of Cyrrhus regarded Moses’s vision of the burning bush as a symbol and prototype of the Virgin Mary and the Immaculate Conception.

The iconography of the scene was inspired by the Russian Orthodox hymns comparing the Virgin to the burning bush seen by Moses – engulfed in flames, yet not burning (Exodus 2:1–6). Icons of the subject were popular from the sixteenth century onwards and were believed to offer protection from fire. The Russian Orthodox Church celebrates the festival of the icon on 4/17 September, which is also the day of Moses. More

Warrior Saint Dimitrios, Greece, circa 1700
Tempera on panel
44.5 by 36.5cm, 17 1/2 by 14 3/8 in.

Saint Dimitrios. The city of Thessaloniki suffered repeated attacks and sieges from the Slavic peoples who moved into the Balkans, and Demetrios was credited with many miraculous interventions to defend the city. Hence later traditions about Demetrius regard him as a soldier in the Roman army, and he came to be regarded as an important military martyr. Unsurprisingly, he was extremely popular in the Middle Ages. More

St Nicholas, Russia, circa 1700
Tempera on panel, from a Deisis
89.5 by 30.5cm, 35 1/4 by 12in

Saint Nicholas (15 March 270 – 6 December 343), also called Nikolaos of Myra, was a historic 4th-century Christian saint and Greek Bishop of Myra, in Asia Minor. Because of the many miracles attributed to his intercession, he is also known as Nikolaos the Wonderworker. His reputation evolved among the faithful, as was common for early Christian saints, and his legendary habit of secret gift-giving gave rise to the traditional model of Santa Claus through Sinterklaas.

The historical Saint Nicholas, as known from strict history: He was born at Patara, Lycia in Asia Minor. In his youth he made a pilgrimage to Egypt and the Palestine area. Shortly after his return he became Bishop of Myra and was later cast into prison during the persecution of Diocletian. He was released after the accession of Constantine and was present at the Council of Nicaea. 

He was buried in his church at Myra, and by the 6th century his shrine there had become well-known. In 1087 Italian sailors or merchants stole his alleged remains from Myra and took them to Bari, Italy; this removal greatly increased the saint’s popularity in Europe, and Bari became one of the most crowded of all pilgrimage centres. Nicholas’s relics remain enshrined in the 11th-century basilica of San Nicola at Bari. More

Circle of Icilio Federico Ioni, (Siena 1866-1946)
The Madonna and Child 
Tempera on gold ground panel
25.6 x 18.1cm (10 1/16 x 7 1/8in).
Private collection

Italian School, 20th Century
The Madonna and Child
oil on panel, shaped top 
76.2 x 60.2cm (30 x 23 11/16in).
Private collection

Acknowledgement: Sotheby's

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