Saturday, April 15, 2017

14 Icons, Small Byzantine & Russian Icons, from the 4th - 15th Century with footnotes, #15


A SILVER-MOUNTED STEATITE ICON, Byzantine
THE HODIGITRIA MOTHER OF GOD, 10th-12th century
Carved in half-length and supporting a Child on her left hip
3.5 x 2.9 cm.
Soapstone
Private Collection

A Hodegetria is an iconographic depiction of the Theotokos (Virgin Mary) holding the Child Jesus at her side while pointing to Him as the source of salvation for humankind. In the Western Church this type of icon is sometimes called Our Lady of the Way.

The most venerated icon of the Hodegetria type, regarded as the original, was displayed in the Monastery of the Panaghia Hodegetria in Constantinople, which was built specially to contain it. Unlike most later copies it showed the Theotokos standing full-length. It was said to have been brought back from the Holy Land by Eudocia, the Empress of Theodosius II (408–450), and to have been painted by Saint Luke. The icon was double-sided, with a crucifixion on the other side, and was "perhaps the most prominent cult object in Byzantium".

The original icon has probably now been lost, although various traditions claim that it was carried to Russia or Italy. There are a great number of copies of the image, including many of the most venerated of Russian icons, which have themselves acquired their own status and tradition of copying. More A Hodegetria

A STEATITE ICON, Byzantine
 ST. NICHOLAS OF MYRA , 10th-12th century
His name incised in the background
Soapstone
H. 3,3 cm.
Private Collection

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 of Saint Nicholas

A STEATITE ICON,  Post-Byzantine
ST. NICHOLAS OF MYRA, 15th century 
The saint carved in low relief shown frontally bust-length
Soapstone
3.9 x 3.5 cm. 
Private Collection


A SILVER-MOUNTED GLASS CAMEO, Byzantine, Constantinople or Venice
ST. THEODORE KILLING THE DRAGON, 12th/13th century
Blue pâte de verre
3,6 x 2,9 cm
Private Collection

Theodore Stratelates is a martyr and Warrior Saint venerated with the title Great-martyr in the Eastern Orthodox Church, Eastern Catholic and Roman Catholic Churches.

There is much confusion between him and St. Theodore of Amasea and they were in fact probably the same person, whose legends later diverged into two separate traditions.

Theodore came from the city of Euchaita in Asia Minor. He killed a giant serpent living on a precipice in the outskirts of Euchaita. The serpent had terrorized the countryside. Theodore armed himself with a sword and vanquished it. According to some of the legends, because of his bravery, Theodore was appointed military-commander (stratelates) in the city of Heraclea Pontica, during the time the emperor Licinius (307–324) began a fierce persecution of Christians. Theodore himself invited Licinius to Heraclea, having promised to offer a sacrifice to the pagan gods. He requested that all the gold and silver statues of the gods which they had in Heraclea be gathered up at his house. Theodore then smashed them into pieces which he then distributed to the poor.

Theodore was arrested and subjected to torture and crucified. His servant Varos (also venerated as a saint), witnessed this and recorded it. In the morning the imperial soldiers found him alive and unharmed. Not wanting to flee a martyr's death, Theodore voluntarily gave himself over again into the hands of Licinius, and was beheaded by the sword. This occurred on 8 February 319, on a Saturday, at the third hour of the day. More Theodore Stratelates

A HEMATITE INTAGLIO, Byzantine,
SOLOMON, 4th/5th century 
Incised showing Solomon on horseback killing the Antichrist
Soapstone
2.7 x 2.4 cm.
Private Collection

Solomon was, according to the Bible, a fabulously wealthy and wise king of Israel and a son of David, the previous king of Israel. The conventional dates of Solomon's reign are circa 970 to 931 BC, normally given in alignment with the dates of David's reign. He is described as the third king of the United Monarchy, which would break apart into the northern Kingdom of Israel and the southern Kingdom of Judah shortly after his death. Following the split, his patrilineal descendants ruled over Judah alone.

According to the Talmud, Solomon is one of the 48 prophets. In the Quran, he is considered a major prophet, and Muslims generally refer to him by the Arabic variant Sulayman.

The Hebrew Bible credits him as the builder of the First Temple in Jerusalem. It portrays him as great in wisdom, wealth, and power beyond any of the previous kings of the country, but ultimately as a human king who sinned. His sins included idolatry, marrying foreign women, and ultimately turning away from Yahweh, and led to the kingdom's being torn in two during the reign of his son Rehoboam. Solomon is the subject of many other later references and legends, most notably in the 1st-century apocryphal work known as the Testament of Solomon. In later years, in mostly non-biblical circles, Solomon also came to be known as a magician and an exorcist, with numerous amulets and medallion seals dating from the Hellenistic period invoking his name. More Solomon

A STEATITE ICON, Byzantine, 
ST. THEODORE Byzantine, 10th-12th century
The saint shown frontally half-length holding a spear. 
Soapstone
2.2 x 2.1 cm
Private Collection

A STEATITE ICON, Byzantine, 
ST. THEODORE, 12th century
The name of the saint incised in the background.
Soapstone
4.4 x 3.7 cm
Private Collection

A DOUBLE-SIDED HORN MEDALLION, Russian
THE MOTHER OF GOD AND ST. BASIL THE GREAT, early 16th century 
6.4 x 5.2 cm.
Private Collection

From antiquity, Mary has been called "Theotokos", or "God-Bearer" (Mother of God). The word in Greek is "Theotokos". The term was used as part of the popular piety of the early first millennium church. It is used throughout the Eastern Church's Liturgy, both Orthodox and Catholic. It lies at the heart of the Latin Rite's deep Marian piety and devotion. This title was a response to early threats to 'orthodoxy', the preservation of authentic Christian teaching. A pronouncement of an early Church Council, The Council of Ephesus in 431 A.D., insisted "If anyone does not confess that God is truly Emmanuel, and that on this account the holy virgin is the "Theotokos" (for according to the flesh she gave birth to the word of God become flesh by birth) let him be anathema." (The Council of Ephesus, 431 AD). More Mother of God

Basil of Caesarea, also called Saint Basil the Great (329 or 330 – January 1 or 2, 379), was the Greek bishop of Caesarea Mazaca in Cappadocia, Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey). He was an influential theologian who supported the Nicene Creed and opposed the heresies of the early Christian church, fighting against both Arianism and the followers of Apollinaris of Laodicea. His ability to balance his theological convictions with his political connections made Basil a powerful advocate for the Nicene position.

In addition to his work as a theologian, Basil was known for his care of the poor and underprivileged. Basil established guidelines for monastic life which focus on community life, liturgical prayer, and manual labour. He is remembered as a father of communal monasticism in Eastern Christianity. He is considered a saint by the traditions of both Eastern and Western Christianity. More Basil of Caesarea

A DOUBLE-SIDED HORN MEDALLION, Russian
THE BAPTISM, THE CRUCIFIXION AND TWO SAINTS, early 16th century
8.8 x 5.9 cm.
Private Collection

Baptism is a Christian sacrament of admission and adoption, almost invariably with the use of water, into the Christian Church generally. The canonical Gospels report that Jesus was baptized —a historical event to which a high degree of certainty can be assigned. Baptism has been called a holy sacrament and an ordinance of Jesus Christ. In some denominations, baptism is also called christening, but for others the word "christening" is reserved for the baptism of infants. More Baptism

The crucifixion of Jesus occurred in 1st century Judea, most probably between the years 30 and 33 AD. Jesus' crucifixion is described in the four canonical gospels, referred to in the New Testament epistles, attested to by other ancient sources, and is established as a historical event confirmed by non-Christian sources, although, among historians, there is no consensus on the precise details of what exactly occurred. More on The crucifixion

A DOUBLE-SIDED HORN MEDALLION, Russian
THE LAST SUPPER AND THE DORMITION OF THE MOTHER OF GOD, circa 1500 
Carved in relief. Restored. 
Diam. 6.5 cm.
Private Collection

The Last Supper is the final meal that, in the Gospel accounts, Jesus shared with his Apostles in Jerusalem before his crucifixion. The Last Supper provides the scriptural basis for the Eucharist, also known as "Holy Communion" or "The Lord's Supper".

The four canonical Gospels all state that the Last Supper took place towards the end of the week, after Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem and that Jesus and his Apostles shared a meal shortly before Jesus was crucified at the end of that week. During the meal Jesus predicts his betrayal by one of the Apostles present, and foretells that before the next morning, Peter will deny knowing him.

The three Synoptic Gospels and the First Epistle to the Corinthians include the account of the institution of the Eucharist in which Jesus takes bread, breaks it and gives it to the Apostles, saying: "This is my body which is given for you". The Gospel of John does not include this episode, but tells of Jesus washing the feet of the Apostles, giving the new commandment "to love one another as I have loved you", and has a detailed farewell discourse by Jesus, calling the Apostles who follow his teachings "friends and not servants", as he prepares them for his departure.

Scholars have looked to the Last Supper as the source of early Christian Eucharist traditions. Others see the account of the Last Supper as derived from 1st-century eucharistic practice as described by Paul in the mid-50s. More on The Last Supper

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"), and her bodily resurrection before being taken up into heaven. More The Dormition

A DOUBLE-SIDED HORN MEDALLION, Russian
THE NATIVITY AND THE CRUCIFIXION OF CHRIST, circa 1500
Engraved
5.1 x 5.3 cm.
Private Collection

The nativity of Jesus or birth of Jesus is described in the gospels of Luke and Matthew. The two accounts agree that Jesus was born in Bethlehem in the time of Herod the Great to a betrothed virgin whose name was Mary. There are, however, major differences. Matthew has no census, annunciation to the shepherds or presentation in the Temple, implies that Jesus's parents' home is Bethlehem, and has him born in a house there, and has an unnamed angel appear to Joseph to announce the birth. In Luke there are no Magi, no flight into Egypt, or Massacre of the Innocents, Joseph is a resident of Nazareth, the birth appears to take place in an inn instead of the family home, and the angel (named as Gabriel) announces the coming birth to Mary. While it is possible that Matthew's account might be based on Luke or Luke's on Matthew, the majority of scholars conclude that the two are independent of each other.

In Christian theology the nativity marks the incarnation of Jesus as the second Adam, in fulfillment of the divine will of God, undoing the damage caused by the fall of the first man, Adam. The artistic depiction of the nativity has been a major subject for Christian artists since the 4th century. Since the 13th century, the nativity scene has emphasized the humility of Jesus and promoted a more tender image of him, as a major turning point from the early "Lord and Master" image, affecting the basic approaches of Christian pastoral ministry. More on The nativity

The crucifixion of Jesus, see above

SILVER-GILT PENDANT ICON,  Russian
THE SMOLENSKAYA MOTHER OF GOD, 16th century
Silver, cast and gilt. Set with cabochons
Greek inscription '
6.1 x 5 cm.
Private Collection

The Mother of God Smolenskaya Icon is where the Mother of God is depicted from the waist up holding the Christ child. Christ is portrayed in an erect frontal pose, blessing with his right hand and holding a closed scroll in his left. More Mother of God Smolenskaya

SMALL ICON, Russian
THE PROTECTING VEIL OF THE MOTHER OF GOD, circa 1500
Carved wood, metal mount decorated with filigree and set with semi-precious stones
5.8 x 4.6 cm
Private Collection

In the tenth century, in the church of the Blachernae in Constantinople, there was a festival service. It was at a time of difficulty for the Byzantine empire because of the invading Slavs. At this festal service, on the first of October, the feast of the holy hymnographer Romanos, according to the Life of St. Andrew the Fool-for-Christ, who’s a canonized saint in the Orthodox tradition, he was in the church also with a friend of his, Epiphanios, a friend of his who’s also numbered among the saints.

While they were praying, Andrew had this vision of Christ’s mother, Mary, praying in the church and covering the church with her veil and protecting the people. With her were John the Baptist and John the Evangelist, and, in fact, all of the ranks of the prophets and apostles and bishops and saints were seen. The revelation was that the Theotokos was interceding and praying with all of the saints for the Church on earth. More on the veil

METAL SPHRAGIS (SEAL), Russian
THE DORMITION OF THE MOTHER OF GOD, circa 1900
Before baking, each prosphoron is stamped with this special seal
12.4 cm high, Diam. 8.5 cm
Private Collection

In Orthodox Christianity, prosphoron has come to mean specifically the bread offered at the Divine Liturgy (Eucharist).





Acknowledgement: Hargesheimer Kunstauktionen Düsseldorf, and others

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Sunday, April 9, 2017

10 Icons from the Bible, with footnotes, #14

Italian School, 15th Century
A Crucifix
Tempera on gold ground panel
93.1/8 x 71½ in. (236.5 x 181.7 cm.)
Private collection

French School, 1501 
Christ on the cross between two angels bearing the arms of the kingdom of France 
Oil on board
h: 233 w: 132 cm 
Private collection

The Latin quotation inscribed at the bottom of this Crucifixion is taken from the Book of Jeremiah (22: 3): "Practice righteousness and equity, deliver the oppressed from the hands of the Lord, 'Do not abuse the stranger, the orphan, and the widow: do not use violence, nor shed innocent blood in this place.' The judicial character of this inscription testifies to the vocation of this work to adorn a courtroom. The presence of a Crucifixion in a court is not surprising for the medieval period. More Latin quotation

Italian School, 15th Century
THE MADONNA AND CHILD
Tempera and gold on panel
24 1/4 by 16 1/2 in.; 62.1 by 42.6 cm
Private collection

Russian icon of Pokrov, nineteenth century
Tempera on wood
H .: 54 cm ?? L. 44 cm.
Private collection

The Intercession of the Theotokos or the Protection of Our Most Holy Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary, known in Church Slavonic as Pokrov, is a feast of the Mother of God celebrated in the Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic Churches. The feast celebrates the protection afforded the faithful through the intercessions of the Theotokos (lit. Mother of God, the Eastern version of the Virgin Mary). In the Slavic Orthodox Churches it is celebrated as the most important solemnity besides the Twelve Great Feasts. 

According to Eastern Orthodox Sacred Tradition, the apparition of Mary the Theotokos occurred during the 10th century at the Blachernae church in Constantinople where several of her relics (her robe, veil, and part of her belt) were kept. On Sunday, October 1 at four in the morning, St. Andrew the Blessed Fool-for-Christ, who was a Slav by birth, saw the dome of the church open and the Virgin Mary enter, moving in the air above him, glowing and surrounded by angels and saints. She knelt and prayed with tears for all faithful Christians in the world. The Virgin Mary asked Her Son, Jesus Christ, to accept the prayers of all the people entreating Him and looking for Her protection. Once Her prayer was completed, She walked to the altar and continued to pray. Afterwards, She spread Her veil over all the people in the church as a protection. More Pokrov

THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST
Surrounded by 12 scenes. Russian work, nineteenth century.
Tempera on wood
H: 71 cm L: 61 cm.
Private collection

The resurrection of Jesus is the Christian religious belief that, after being put to death, Jesus rose again from the dead. It is the central tenet of Christian theology and part of the Nicene Creed: "On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures"

Just before sunrise on the day after the regular weekly Sabbath three women, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome, come to anoint Jesus' body, wondering how they would be able to roll the large rock away from the tomb; but they found the rock already rolled aside and a young man in white inside; he told them that Jesus had risen, and that they should tell Peter and the disciples that he will meet them in Galilee, "just as he told you". More The resurrection of Jesus 

Nicolas Tarabroff, active from 1893 to 1917
CHRIST PANTOCRATOR, Moscou 1894
Tempera on wood, decorated with a gilt rimmed riza, and a nimbus in polychrome enamels cloisonné. 
L: 26.5 cm. Kiotre: H .68 cm
Private collection

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 Christ Pantocrator

SAINT PETER AND SAINT PAUL, Russian, eighteenth century.
Tempera on wood
H. 90 cm  L: 51 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 Saint Peter

Paul the Apostle (c. 5 – c. 67), commonly known as Saint Paul, and also known by his native name Saul of Tarsus was an apostle (though not one of the Twelve Apostles) who taught the gospel of the Christ to the first century world. He is generally considered one of the most important figures of the Apostolic Age. In the mid-30s to the mid-50s AD, he founded several churches in Asia Minor and Europe. Paul took advantage of his status as both a Jew and a Roman citizen to minister to both Jewish and Roman audiences. More Saint Paul

 VIRGIN,  Greek, c. 1863
Tempera on wood
H .: 21 cm  L. 15 cm
Private collection

THE PASSION OF CHRIST, Russian, c. century.
Tempera on wood.
H .: 62.5 cm  L: 53.5 cm
Private collection

In Christianity, the Passion (from Late Latin: passionem "suffering, enduring") is the short final period in the life of Jesus covering his entrance visit to Jerusalem and leading to his crucifixion on Mount Calvary, defining the climactic event central to Christian doctrine of Salvation History.

The word passion has since taken on a more general application and now may also apply to accounts of the suffering and death of Christian martyrs, sometimes using the Latin form passio.  More

VIRGIN AND CHILD, Russian work of the twentieth century.
Tempera on wood, with riza, in gilded metal
H .: 13 cm  L.: 11 cm
Private collection




















Acknowledgement: Monte-Carlo Sales, 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.