Friday, August 18, 2017

10 Ivory Carvings & Sculpture from the Bible! 15 & 16th Century. With Footnote, # 13

Maria lactans, c. mid-15th century, France
Ivory
Height: 17 cm
Private collection

The Nursing Madonna, Virgo Lactans, or Madonna Lactans, is an iconography of the Madonna and Child in which the Virgin Mary is shown breastfeeding the infant Jesus.

The depiction is mentioned by Pope Gregory the Great, and a mosaic depiction probably of the 12th century is on the facade of Santa Maria in Trastevere in Rome, though few other examples survive from before the late Middle Ages. It continued to be found in Orthodox icons, especially in Russia.

In the Middle Ages, the middle and upper classes usually contracted breastfeeding out to wetnurses, and the depiction of the Nursing Madonna was linked with the Madonna of Humility, a depiction that showed the Virgin in more ordinary clothes than the royal robes shown, for instance, in images of the Coronation of the Virgin, and often seated on the ground. The appearance of a large number of such depictions in Tuscany in the early 14th century was something of a visual revolution for the theology of the time, compared to the Queen of Heaven depictions. After the Council of Trent in the mid-16th century, clerical writers discouraged nudity in religious subjects, and the use of the Madonna Lactans iconography began to fade away. More on the nursing Madonna

The thorny crown of Christ
Two-ivory carvings
Height: 15 cm. 
17th century.
Private collection

Jesus sitting on a stone block with his head pressed down by a soldier, while the soldier places the crown of his thorn with iron gloves. More on this sculpture 
19th century.
A youthful Madonna
Ivory. 
Height: 35 cm. 
Private collection


On a cloud base, this busy winged angel with three heads and a crescent moon. put your hands over your chest, facing the view with inset glass eyes upward. More on A youthful Madonna

The two Marys, Johannes Evangelist with gospel book, and Nicodemus
Pair of ivory figures
Height: 17 per cm. Early 17th century.
Private collection

The two Marys and Johannes Evangelist with gospel book, behind the Holy Nicodemus. The ivory figures formerly colored calm, still preserved remains of the holder into the garment depths. flattened at the back. More on the 2 Marys

As the depiction of the Passion of Christ increased in complexity towards the end of the first millennium, a number of scenes were developed covering the period between the death of Jesus on the Cross and his being placed in his tomb. The accounts in the Canonical Gospels concentrate specifically mention the Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene as present. More on the 2 Marys

John the Evangelist is the name traditionally given to the author of the Gospel of John. Christians have traditionally identified him with John the Apostle, John of Patmos, and John the Presbyter, though this has been disputed by modern scholars.

Christian tradition says that John the Evangelist was John the Apostle. A historical figure, one of the "pillars" of the Jerusalem church after Jesus' death. He was one of the original twelve apostles and is thought to be the only one to have lived into old age and not be killed for his faith. John is associated with the city of Ephesus, where he is said to have lived and been buried. Some believe that he was exiled (around 95 AD) to the Aegean island of Patmos, where he wrote the Book of Revelation. More

He wrote to the seven Christian churches in Asia to warn them of various challenges and temptations that confront them, which have been revealed to him in a vision. He then relates several additional powerful visions concerning the Last Days and the Second Coming of Christ. More

Nicodemus is a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin mentioned in three places in the Gospel of John: 1- He first visits Jesus one night to discuss Jesus' teachings. 2- The second time Nicodemus is mentioned, he reminds his colleagues in the Sanhedrin that the law requires that a person be heard before being judged. 3- Finally, Nicodemus appears after the Crucifixion of Jesus to provide the customary embalming spices, and assists Joseph of Arimathea in preparing the body of Jesus for burial

An apocryphal work under his name—the Gospel of Nicodemus—was produced in the mid-4th century, and is mostly a reworking of the earlier Acts of Pilate, which recounts the harrowing of Hell. More Nicodemus 

VIRGIN AND CHILD
IVORY SCULPTURE. CIRCA 1800
Height: 11,5 cm.
Private collection


Jesus Christ bust 
Mammoth Ivory Figurine
Height: 8, Width:7 , Length: 3.5 Cm
Private collection


This Figurine is Hand carved by a Master Carver to perfection. This Figurine is made of 100% genuine Mammoth Ivory Tusk. The extinct woolly Mammoth roamed the earth before 10,000-40,000 years ago. Today we can find Mammoth ivory tusk in the arctic regions like Siberia in Russia. Mammoth ivory figurines are absolutely legal worldwide. More on Mammoth Ivory

Trade in the ivory from the tusks of dead mammoths has occurred for 300 years and continues to be legal. Mammoth ivory is used today to make handcrafted knives and similar implements. Mammoth ivory is rare and costly because mammoths have been extinct for millennia, and scientists are hesitant to sell museum-worthy specimens in pieces.[39] Some estimates suggest that 10 million mammoths are still buried in Siberia. More on Mammoth Ivory


Saint Joseph holding in his hands baby Jesus
Mammoth Ivory figurine
Height: 14 Cm / 5.5 In
Private collection

Joseph is a figure in the Gospels, the husband of Mary, mother of Jesus, and is venerated as Saint Joseph. In both Catholic and Protestant traditions, Joseph is regarded as the patron saint of workers and is associated with various feast days. Pope Pius IX declared him to be both the patron and the protector of the Catholic Church, in addition to his patronages of the sick and of a happy death, due to the belief that he died in the presence of Jesus and Mary. In popular piety, Joseph is regarded as a model for fathers and has also become patron of various dioceses and places.

Several notable images of Saint Joseph have been granted a Canonical coronation by a Pope. In popular religious iconography he is associated with lilies or a spikenard. With the present-day growth of Mariology, the theological field of Josephology has also grown and since the 1950s centers for studying it have been formed.

According to the New Testament, Joseph was the father of James, Joses, Jude, Simon, and at least two daughters. More on Saint Joseph

Virgin with Child
Gothic style  French work. Period: XIXth century
Carved ivory
H.:50cm. 
Private collection

Virgin Mary Holding Baby Jesus
Mammoth Ivory figurine 
H:22Cm
Private collection

Salvador Dalí, 1904 - 1989
CHRIST OF ST. JOHN OF THE CROSS, 1978
Patinated metal bas relief sculpture
30 x 18 x 2 in. (76.2 x 45.7 x 5.1 cm)
Signed, 99/195.
Private collection

The sculpture is known as the Christ of Saint John of the Cross, because its design is based on a drawing by the 16th-century Spanish friar John of the Cross. The composition of Christ is also based on a triangle and circle (the triangle is formed by Christ's arms; the circle is formed by Christ's head). The triangle, since it has three sides, can be seen as a reference to the Trinity, and the circle may be an allusion to Platonic thought. The circle represents Unity: all things do exist in the "three" but in the four, merry they be. More on  the Christ of Saint John of the Cross

Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech, Marqués de Dalí de Púbol (11 May 1904 – 23 January 1989), known professionally as Salvador Dalí, was a prominent Spanish surrealist painter born in Figueres, Catalonia, Spain.

Dalí was a skilled draftsman, best known for the striking and bizarre images in his surrealist work. His painterly skills are often attributed to the influence of Renaissance masters. His best-known work, The Persistence of Memory, was completed in August 1931. Dalí's expansive artistic repertoire included film, sculpture, and photography, in collaboration with a range of artists in a variety of media.

Dalí attributed his "love of everything that is gilded and excessive, my passion for luxury and my love of oriental clothes" to an "Arab lineage", claiming that his ancestors were descended from the Moors.

Dalí was highly imaginative, and also enjoyed indulging in unusual and grandiose behavior. His eccentric manner and attention-grabbing public actions sometimes drew more attention than his artwork, to the dismay of those who held his work in high esteem, and to the irritation of his critics. More Salvador Dalí







Acknowledgement: HAMPEL, IvoryAndArt, and others

Images are copyright of their respective owners, assignees or others

We do not sell art prints, framed posters or reproductions. Ads are shown only to compensate the hosting expenses.

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Monday, August 14, 2017

11 Paintings, RELIGIOUS ART - Interpretation of the Bible! by The Old Masters, With Footnotes - # 46

Florentine school circa 1700, circle of P. Dandini
Saint Cecilia
Oil on canvas
25 1/4 X 20 7/8 IN. 64 X 53 CM
Private Collection

St. Cecilia is one of the most famous of the Roman martyrs, even if the familiar stories about her are apparently not founded.  The existence of the martyrs, however, is a historical fact. The relation between St. Cecilia and Valerianus, Tiburtius, and Maximus, mentioned in the Acts of the Martyrs, has perhaps some historical foundation.

It was long supposed that she was a noble lady of Rome who suffered martyrdom in about 230, under the Emperor Alexander Severus. According to the story, despite her vow of virginity, she was forced by her parents to marry a pagan nobleman named Valerian. During the wedding, Cecilia sat apart singing to God in her heart, and for that she was later declared the saint of musicians. When the time came for her marriage to be consummated, Cecilia told Valerian that watching over her was an angel of the Lord, who would punish him if he sexually violated her but would love him if he respected her virginity. When Valerian asked to see the angel, Cecilia replied that he could if he would go to the third milestone on the Via Appia and be baptized by Pope Urban I. After following Cecilia's advice, he saw the angel standing beside her and crowning her with a chaplet of roses and lilies.

The legend about Cecilia’s death says that after being struck three times on the neck with a sword, she lived for three days, and asked the pope to convert her home into a church.

Cecilia was buried at the Catacombs of St. Callistus, and then transferred to the Church of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere. In 1599, her body was found still incorrupt, seeming to be asleep. More St. Cecilia 

Florentine painting or the Florentine School refers to artists in, from, or influenced by the naturalistic style developed in Florence in the 14th century, largely through the efforts of Giotto di Bondone, and in the 15th century the leading school of Western painting. Some of the best known artists of the Florentine school, including other arts, are Filippo Brunelleschi, Donatello, Michelangelo, Fra Angelico, Botticelli, Lippi, Masolino, and Masaccio. More Florentine School


Jean Béraud, 1849 St. Petersburg - 1935 Paris
THE YOUNG WOMAN WITH THE CHILD, c. 1906
Oil on canvas
87 x 66 cm. 
Private Collection

Jean Béraud (January 12, 1849 – October 4, 1935) was a French painter, noted for his paintings of Parisian life during the Belle Époque. He was renowned in Paris society due to his numerous paintings depicting the life of Paris, and the nightlife of Paris society. He also painted religious subjects in a contemporary setting. Pictures of the Champs Elysees, cafeés, Montmartre and the banks of the Seine are precisely detailed illustrations of everyday Parisian era of the "Belle Époque". More Jean Béraud,

Late 17th century Roman school
Saint Anthony of Padua: the fish preacher
Oil on canvas
49 X 69 1/2 IN.  124,5 X 176,5 CM
Private Collection

Saint Anthony of Padua (Portuguese: Santo António), born Fernando Martins de Bulhões (1195 – 13 June 1231), also known as Anthony of Lisbon, was a Portuguese Catholic priest and friar of the Franciscan Order. He was born and raised by a wealthy family in Lisbon, Portugal, and died in Padua, Italy. Noted by his contemporaries for his forceful preaching, expert knowledge of scripture, and undying love and devotion to the poor and the sick, he was the second-most-quickly canonized saint after Peter of Verona. He was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church on 16 January 1946. He is also the patron saint of lost things. More on Saint Anthony of Padua

Roman School, 17th Century. Both Michelangelo and Raphael worked in Rome, making it the centre of High Renaissance; in the 17th century it was the centre of the Baroque movement represented by Bernini and Pietro da Cortona. From the 17th century the presence of classical remains drew artists from all over Europe including Poussin, Claude Lorrain, Piranesi, Pannini and Mengs.

In the 17th century Italian art was diffused mainly from Rome, the indisputable centre of the Baroque.

Roman Mannerism, spread abroad by the prolific work of Federico and Taddeo Zuccari, was continued by Roncalli, called Pomarancio and especially by Giuseppe Cesari, called Cavaliere d'Arpino, whose reputation was immense. The reaction against Mannerism engendered two different movements, which were sometimes linked together: one was realist with Caravaggio, the other eclectic and decorative with the Carracci.

Caravaggio brought about the greatest pictorial revolution of the century. His imposing compositions, deliberately simplified, are remarkable for their rigorous sense of reality and for the contrasting light falling from one side that accentuates the volumes. He changed from small paintings of genre and still-life, clear in light and cool in colour, to harsh realism, strongly modelled volumes and dramatic light and shade. His work, like his life, caused much scandal and excited international admiration.

Among the Italian disciples of Caravaggio Carlo Saraceni was the only direct Venetian follower. Bartolomeo Manfredi imitated Caravaggio's genre paintings; Orazio Gentileschi and his daughter Artemisia Gentileschi showed a marked realism. Caravaggio's biographer and enemy, Giovanni Baglione underwent his influence. More Roman School, 17th Century

 Bolognese school, circle of N. Bertuzzi
Moses after crossing the Red Sea,  circa 1700
Oil on canvas
7 1/2 X 11 IN.  19 X 28 CM
Private Collection

The Crossing of the Red Sea, or Sea of Reeds, is part of the biblical narrative of the escape of the Israelites, led by Moses, from the pursuing Egyptians in the Book of Exodus. This story is also mentioned in the Quran in Surah.

According to the Exodus account, Moses held out his staff and the Red Sea was parted by God. The Israelites walked on the exposed ground and crossed the sea, followed by the Egyptian army. Moses again moved his staff once the Israelites had crossed and the sea closed again, drowning the whole Egyptian army.

The narrative contains at least three and possibly four layers. In the first layer (the oldest), God blows the sea back with a strong east wind, allowing the Israelites to cross on dry land; in the second, Moses stretches out his hand and the waters part in two walls; in the third, God clogs the chariot wheels of the Egyptians and they flee (in this version the Egyptians do not even enter the water); and in the fourth, the Song of the Sea, God casts the Egyptians into tehomat, the mythical abyss. More on The Crossing of the Red Sea

The Bolognese School or the School of Bologna of painting flourished in Bologna, the capital of Emilia Romagna, between the 16th and 17th centuries in Italy, and rivalled Florence and Rome as the center of painting. Certain artistic conventions, which over time became traditionalist, had been developed in Rome during the first decades of the 16th century. As time passed, some artists sought new approaches to their work that no longer reflected only the Roman manner. The Carracci studio sought innovation or invention, seeking new ways to break away from traditional modes of painting while continuing to look for inspiration from their literary contemporaries. This style was seen as both systematic and imitative, borrowing particular motifs from the past Roman schools of art and innovating a modernistic approach. More on The Bolognese School 

 Attr. to D. Teniers II, (1610-1690)
Simeon welcoming the Child Jesus
Oil on copper
8 11/16 X 6 11/16 IN.  22 X 17 CM
Private Collection

Simeon (Simeon the God-receiver) is the "just and devout" man of Jerusalem who met Mary, Joseph, and Jesus as they entered the Temple to fulfill the requirements of the Law of Moses on the 40th day from Jesus' birth at the presentation of Jesus at the Temple.

According to the Biblical account, Simeon had been visited by the Holy Spirit and told that he would not die until he had seen the Lord's Christ. On taking Jesus into his arms he uttered a prayer, which is still used liturgically as the Latin Nunc dimittis in many Christian churches, and gave a prophecy alluding to the crucifixion. More Simeon

David Teniers the Younger (15 December 1610 – 25 April 1690) was a Flemish artist born in Antwerp, the son of David Teniers the Elder. His son David Teniers III and his grandson David Teniers IV were also painters.

Through his father, he was indirectly influenced by Elsheimer and by Rubens. The influence of Adriaen Brouwer can be traced to the outset of his career. There is no evidence, however, that either Rubens or Brouwer interfered in any way with Teniers's education. The only trace of personal relations having existed between Teniers and Rubens is the fact that the ward of the latter, Anne Breughel, the daughter of Jan (Velvet) Breughel, married Teniers in 1637. More Teniers


Spanish school, circa 1660
The Visitation
Oil on canvas
20 7/8 X 15 15/16 IN. 53 X 40,5 CM
Private Collection

The Visitation. Mary visits her relative Elizabeth; they are both pregnant. Mary is pregnant with Jesus and Elizabeth is pregnant with John the Baptist. Elizabeth was in the sixth month before Mary came. Mary stayed three months, and most scholars hold she stayed for the birth of John. The apparition of the angel, mentioned in Matthew, may have taken place then to end the tormenting doubts of Joseph regarding Mary's maternity.

In Catholicism, it is held that the purpose of this visit was to bring divine grace to both Elizabeth and her unborn child. Even though he was still in his mother's womb, John became aware of the presence of Christ, and leapt for joy as he was cleansed from original sin and filled with divine grace. Elizabeth also responded and recognised the presence of Jesus, and thus Mary exercised her function as mediatrix between God and man for the first time. More on The Visitation

Spanish School, 16th Century. In the sixteenth century when Spain became a world power with vast possessions and sources of wealth in the New World, as well as possessions dotted about Europe, it might have been expected that a vigorous national school of painting would emerge, transforming the somewhat tentative or imitative character that painting in Spain had shown up to then. It turned out otherwise. For most of the 16th century, painting remained spiritless. Both the Emperor Charles V and his son Philip II of Spain were patrons with a feeling for art, but the great Venetians, especially Titian, claimed most of their interest. Philip also highly approved of the fantasies of Hieronymus Bosch (1450-1516) - although the top Spanish clergy suspected heresy in these strange pictures from the Netherlands. More on the Spanish School


 Spanish school circa 1640,
Jesus the carpenter
Oil on canvas
13 3/16 X 19 5/16  33,5 X 49 CM
Private Collection

Jesus the carpenter. A typical Jew in Jesus' time had only one name, sometimes supplemented with the father's name or the individual's hometown. Thus, in the New Testament, Jesus is commonly referred to as "Jesus of Nazareth". Jesus' neighbors in Nazareth refer to him as "the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon",  "the carpenter's son", or "Joseph's son". In John, the disciple Philip refers to him as "Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth". More on Jesus the carpenter

 Spanish school, see above

Florentine school, circa 1700, follower of J. da Empoli
Annunciation
Oil on canvas
43 5/16 X 34 13/16 IN. 110 X 88,5 CM
Private Collection

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. 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 Annunciation


Florentine painting or the Florentine School refers to artists in, from, or influenced by the naturalistic style developed in Florence in the 14th century, largely through the efforts of Giotto di Bondone, and in the 15th century the leading school of Western painting. Some of the best known artists of the Florentine school, including other arts, are Filippo Brunelleschi, Donatello, Michelangelo, Fra Angelico, Botticelli, Lippi, Masolino, and Masaccio. More Florentine School

Hans Makart, 1840 Salzburg - 1884 Vienna
SUSANNA AND THE ELDERS, c. 1860/62
. Oil on canvas
161 x 79 cm. 
Private Collection

The naked Susanna, lying on a rocky fountain, fell asleep during bathing. Innocently dreaming under a tree, she barely reveals her bodily stimuli - only lightly covered with a white cloth. At her feet different birds and a water drinking peacock (symbol of beauty and immortality), in the background by her head the source of the stream. Behind a rocky protrusion, the two lusty old men are lurking.

The picture was painted around 1860/62 and was certainly inspired by the painting by A. v. Dyck in the Old Pinakothek in Munich "Susanna and the two old ones." More on this painting

A fair Hebrew wife named Susanna was falsely accused by lecherous voyeurs. As she bathes in her garden, having sent her attendants away, two lustful elders secretly observe the lovely Susanna. When she makes her way back to her house, they accost her, threatening to claim that she was meeting a young man in the garden unless she agrees to have sex with them.
She refuses to be blackmailed and is arrested and about to be put to death for promiscuity when a young man named Daniel interrupts the proceedings, shouting that the elders should be questioned to prevent the death of an innocent. After being separated, the two men are questioned about details of what they saw, but disagree about the tree under which Susanna supposedly met her lover. In the Greek text, the names of the trees cited by the elders form puns with the sentence given by Daniel. The first says they were under a mastic, and Daniel says that an angel stands ready to cuthim in two. The second says they were under an evergreen oak tree, and Daniel says that an angel stands ready to saw him in two. The great difference in size between a mastic and an oak makes the elders' lie plain to all the observers. The false accusers are put to death, and virtue triumphs. More about Susanna

Hans Makart (Austrian, 1840 - 1884), was a Austrian academic history painter, designer, and decorator. Studied under Josef Schiffmann and Karl Theodor von Piloty.

Son of a chamberlain at Mirabell castle. After a short study at the Academy in Vienna he was educated by Karl Theodor von Piloty in Munich (1860-1865) and travelled to London, Paris and Rome to study. He returned to Vienna after the prince Von Hohenlohe provided him with an old foundry to use as a studio. It gradually turned it into an impressive place full of sculptures, flowers, musical instruments, requisites and jewellery that he used to create classical settings for his portraits, mainly of women. Eventually his studio looked like a salon and became a social meeting point in Vienna. Makart became famous for his richly coloured history paintings and enjoyed his finest hour in 1879 with his painting of the procession in honour of the silver anniversary of the marriage of emperor Francis Joseph and his wife Elisabeth. In the same year he became a Professor at the Academy. Makart also designed furniture and interiors. More Hans Makart 

Roman School, 17th century
THE REST ON THE FLIGHT TO EGYPT
Oil on canvas, unlined
28.8 x 20.5 cm.; 11 3/8  x 8 in
Private Collection

THE REST ON THE FLIGHT TO EGYPT. The scene is based not on any incident in the Bible itself, but on a body of tales or legends that had grown up in the early Middle Ages around the Bible story of the Holy Family fleeing into Egypt for refuge on being warned that Herod the Great was seeking to kill the Christ Child. According to the legend, Joseph and Mary paused on the flight in a grove of trees; the Holy Child ordered the trees to bend down so that Joseph could take fruit from them, and then ordered a spring of water to gush forth from the roots so that his parents could quench their thirst. This basic story acquired many extra details during the centuries. More on THE REST ON THE FLIGHT TO EGYPT

Roman school, see above

Follower of Paolo Caliari, called Paolo Veronese
THE REST ON THE RETURN TO EGYPT
oil on canvas
24.5 x 59.3 cm.; 9 5/8  x 23 3/8  in.
Private Collection

THE REST ON THE RETURN TO EGYPT, see above

Paolo Caliari, known as Paolo Veronese (1528 – 19 April 1588) was an Italian Renaissance painter based in Venice, most famous for large history paintings of both religious and mythological subjects, such as The Wedding at Cana and The Feast in the House of Levi. With Titian, who was at least a generation older, and Tintoretto, ten years older, he was one of the "great trio that dominated Venetian painting of the cinquecento" or 16th-century late Renaissance. Veronese is known as a supreme colorist, and after an early period with Mannerist influence turned to a more naturalist style influenced by Titian.

His most famous works are elaborate narrative cycles, executed in a dramatic and colorful style, full of majestic architectural settings and glittering pageantry. His large paintings of biblical feasts, crowded with figures, painted for the refectories of monasteries in Venice and Verona are especially famous, and he was also the leading Venetian painter of ceilings. Most of these works remain in situ, or at least in Venice, and his representation in most museums is mainly composed of smaller works such as portraits that do not always show him at his best or most typical.


He has always been appreciated for "the chromatic brilliance of his palette, the splendor and sensibility of his brushwork, the aristocratic elegance of his figures, and the magnificence of his spectacle", but his work has been felt "not to permit expression of the profound, the human, or the sublime", and of the "great trio" he has often been the least appreciated by modern criticism. Nonetheless, "many of the greatest artists ... may be counted among his admirers, including Rubens, Watteau, Tiepolo, Delacroix and Renoir". More on Paolo Caliari






Acknowledgement: Le Figaro, and others

Images are copyright of their respective owners, assignees or others

We do not sell art prints, framed posters or reproductions. Ads are shown only to compensate the hosting expenses.

If you enjoyed this post, please share with friends and family.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

08 Russian Icons from the Bible, with footnotes, #12

18th C. Russian Icon
Christ Emmanuel
Egg tempera and gold leaf on wood
10.25" W x 12.25" H (26 cm x 31.1 cm)
Private collection

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".

The prophet Isaiah coined the term Emmanuel which means God is with us, and this icon captures that sense of immediate presence. According to Alfredo Tradigo, "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. 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. More on this Icon

18th C. Russian Icon
St. John the Evangelist
Egg tempera and gold leaf on wood
12.75" W x 16" H (32.4 cm x 40.6 cm)
Private collection

Images of the evangelists derived from miniatures of illuminated Gospel books and Gospel lectionaries showing them at work in their scriptoria (a room in medieval European monasteries devoted to the writing, copying and illuminating of manuscripts by monastic scribes). These portrayals were oftentimes painted on the outside of the royal doors. John's symbol is the eagle, chosen for the sublime manner in which he described the godliness of the Word.

Also known as John the Theologian for his ability to channel divine wisdom, Saint John wrote the fourth Gospel (the Book of Revelation), while living in a cave on the isle of Patmos, exiled by Emperor Trajan. There he dictated a dramatic vision of the Apocalypse to the deacon Prochorus, his disciple and steadfast companion. John also wrote the Gospel of Love, in addition to three of the Catholic Epistles. In the words of Patriarch Athenagoras, John is the source of our loftiest spirituality. Like him, those who are silent know the mysterious confusion that can assail the heart; invoking the presence of John, their hearts catch fire. More on this Icon

19th C. Russian Icon
Chosen Saints
Egg tempera and gold leaf on wood
14.25" W x 17.75" H (36.2 cm x 45.1 cm)
Private collection

An icon presenting an ensemble of blessed saints, including Catherine , Natalya, Ann the Prophetess, Ljubov (Love, more commonly interpreted as Charity), John, and Alexander standing in two rows. The seventh saint is most likely John the Evangelist. Each saint is identified with a gold on blue banner, all beneath Saint Anne in the celestial realm aloft billowing clouds donning red and blue robes. More on this Icon


Saint Catherine of Alexandria is, according to tradition, a Christian saint and virgin, who was martyred in the early 4th century at the hands of the pagan emperor Maxentius. According to her hagiography, she was both a princess and a noted scholar, who became a Christian around the age of fourteen, and converted hundreds of people to Christianity. More on Saint Catherine of Alexandria

Saint Natalia's hagiography is closely tied to the life of her husband, Saint Adrian. Adrian was struck by divine grace and told the Roman officials to write his own name with the rest of the martyrs. When his wife Natalia heard that he had been imprisoned with the martyrs, she ran with joy to the gaol and lauded his resolve while embracing his chains. She imploring the other martyrs to pray to God.

When Adrian appeared before the emperor and confessed Christ, he was tutored, and killed, with the other martyrs. Their hands and feet were then cut off.  Natalie managed to steal one of her husband's severed hands from the pile. The fire that was supposed to burn the relics was miraculously put out by a sudden shower of rain, and a Christian named Eusebius was able to retrieve the relics and transport them for burial to Argyroupolis, a town near Byzantium. Some time later, Natalia visited the tomb where she gave up her soul to God and was herself subsequently buried. More on Saint Natalia

Anna the Prophetess is a woman mentioned in the Gospel of Luke. According to that Gospel, she was an elderly Jewish woman who prophesied about Jesus at the Temple of Jerusalem. She appears in Luke, during the presentation of Jesus at the Temple. More on Anna the Prophetess

Saint Ljubov, Saints Faith, Hope and Charity are a group of Christian martyred saints.  In the reign of Roman Emperor Hadrian (2nd century AD), a matron Sophia (Wisdom), with her three youthful daughters, Pistis, Elpis, and Agape (Greek for Faith, Hope and Charity), became martyrs.

The guards took Sophia's daughters one by one, from the oldest to the youngest and beat and tortured them to death in an attempt to force her to renounce her faith in Christ. She proved her unconditional faith in Christ by proving to people that she and her daughters were willing to go through hard times for their faith. Afterwards, Sophia buried her daughters' bodies and remained by their graves for three days until she died herself. More on Saint Ljubov and Saint Sofia

Saint John the Apostle, also called Saint John the Evangelist or Saint John the Divine (flourished 1st century ce), in Christian tradition, the author of three letters, the Fourth Gospel, and the Revelation to John in the New Testament. He played a leading role in the early church at Jerusalem. More on Saint John
Saint Anne (also known as Ann or Anna) of David's house and line, was the mother of the Virgin Mary and grandmother of Jesus Christ, according to apocryphal Christian and Islamic tradition. More on Saint Anne

19th C. Russian Icon
St. Alexander Svirsky
Egg tempera and gold leaf on wood
3.25" W x 4.25" H (8.3 cm x 10.8 cm)
Private collection

St. Alexander Svirsky spent much of time of his life as a monk, including some period of total isolation from society.

In 1506, Serapion, Archbishop of Novgorod, appointed him Hegumen of the Trinity monastery, which later became known as Alexander-Svirsky Monastery, at the place of the saint's eremitic life between Roschinsky and Holy lakes. A rendition of the the appearance of the Holy Trinity ot St. Alexander Svirsky. 

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. More on St. Alexander Svirsky

Eastern Europe, Russia, ca. 1760 to 1780 CE
Virgin of the Burning Bush
Egg tempera and gold leaf on wood
14.125" L x 12.125" W (35.9 cm x 30.8 cm)
Private collection

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 on Our Lady of the Burning Bush

19th C. Oval Russian Icon
Theotokos of Unburnt Bush
Egg tempera and gold leaf on wood
6.625" W x 9.5" H (16.8 cm x 24.1 cm)
Private collection

This icon depicts the burning bush symbolically with two overlapping diamonds - the blue diamond/rhombus representing the bush, the red diamond/rhombus representing the fiery flames that do not burn it. Within the red points are the symbols of the four evangelists: lion, ox, eagle, and man; within the blue points are angels of the Apocalypse. The corners feature visions of Moses, Isaiah, Ezekial, and Jacob - prophesies concerning the Mother of God: the burning bush of Moses, the seraph who purifies Moses' lips, the closed door of the Temple in Ezekiel (symbolizing Mary's virginity), and Jacob's Ladder. At the center of it all is the Theotokos Mother of God. Old Cyrillic passages are written in the borders and beside various elements to identify holy figures and narrate various episodes. More on this Icon

19th C. Russian Icon
St. Seraphim of Sarov
Egg tempera and gold leaf on wood
4.375" W x 5.375" H (11.1 cm x 13.7 cm)
Private collection

St. Seraphim of Sarov blesses himself before his icon of the Mother of God hanging in the tree above. At his feet are a hat, bread sack, gloves, and axe. The strongly modeled visage as well as the perspectival background suggest that the painter was very much influenced by Western art. The borders are meticulously incised and painted to simulate enamel. More on this Icon

Saint Seraphim of Sarov (1 August 1754 (or 1759) – 14 January 1833), born Prokhor Moshnin, is one of the most renowned Russian saints in the Eastern Orthodox Church. He is generally considered the greatest of the 19th-century (elders. Seraphim extended the monastic teachings of contemplation, theoria and self-denial to the layperson. He taught that the purpose of the Christian life was to acquire the Holy Spirit. Perhaps his most popular quotation amongst Orthodox believers is "Acquire a peaceful spirit, and thousands around you will be saved."

Seraphim was glorified (canonized) by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1903. Pope John Paul II referred to him as a saint. More on St. Seraphim of Sarov

Eastern Europe, Russia, 19th century CE. Icon
St. John the Baptist & Head
Egg tempera and gold leaf on wood
17.5" W x 43.75" H (44.4 cm x 111.1 cm)
Private collection

A winged St. John the Baptist holding a scroll as well as his severed head on a platter, with God the Father above. The wings occupy a large part of the composition and bestow John the Baptist's body with an otherworldly, celestial dimension. The artist painstakingly delineated the feathered wings in various neutral earthtones with black and white highlights, creating a rich sense of depth. This attention to detail is also visible on this camel-hair tunic and blue-green himation. The white strokes dramatically highlighting these vestments symbolize the spiritual energy of divine light. On the scroll are the words, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world," and "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (John 1:29, Matthew 3:2). A large golden halo encircles his visage cascading past his beard and shoulders. More on this icon

John the Baptist (sometimes called John in the Wilderness; also referred to as the Angel of the Desert) was the subject of at least eight paintings by the Italian Baroque artist Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571–1610).

The story of John the Baptist is told in the Gospels. John was the cousin of Jesus, and his calling was to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah. He lived in the wilderness of Judea between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea, "his raiment of camel's hair, and a leather girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey." He baptised Jesus in the Jordan.

According to the Bible, King Herod's daughter Salome requested Saint John the Baptist's beheading. She was prompted by her mother, Herodias, who sought revenge, because the prophet had condemned her incestuous marriage to HerodMore John the Baptist






The Eastern Orthodox Church subscribes to a belief in the intercession of saints. In the Eastern Orthodox tradition every individual is named in honor of a specific saint when baptized, and this saint is regarded as a patron for the person's entire life. In addition, there are patron saints of activities and occupations, ailments and dangers, as well as locales.



Acknowledgement: Artemis Gallery, and others

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