101781 | RUSSIA. "Our Lady of Vladimir" wooden icon.
101781 | RUSSIA. "Our Lady of Vladimir" wooden icon. Made 1867 (145mm x 178mm, ~350 g). Viktor (or Venyamin) Vasilievich Savinsky, silversmith in Moscow.
Gilt silver oklad: Image of the Theotokos (Virgin Mary) and Infant Christ, with them embracing cheek-to-cheek, and the gaze of the Theotokos solemnly toward the viewer; the pair elaborately draped, with radiant nimbus crowns; openings revealing their heads, necks, hands, and the feet of the Infant, all of which are painted in tempera atop wood; elaborate framework around, with circular white-enamelled medallions to upper left and right reading MHP – ΘУ, and long rectangular white-enamelled medallion at central bottom reading ВЛАДИМИРСКÏѦ; hallmarks: «B•C above 1867» «84» and «(St. George)». Back and sides: Covered in light beige felt, with the oklad hammered into the wood on each side; 689201 written to upper right of back.
Choice Extremely Fine. Light gilt appearance to the oklad, with great relief and intricate detail, especially within the nimbus crowns.
Please refer to the in-hand photo in order to get a more accurate sense of the size of this icon.
Following the conversion of the peoples of the Ancient Rus' (those in the eastern and northern portions of Europe) to Orthodox Christianity in the late 10th century, queues were taken from Byzantine art and iconography. As time progressed, and given the lack of more personal representations of religion, the practice in the emerging tsardom of Russia began to emulate the artistic traditions in western Europe within the Protestant and Catholic spheres. Thus, the Russian icon was born—a representation of one's religion and hopes, all in the form of a small-scale, craft-oriented image, usually done on wood and with the ability to venerate in one's house. The imagery would usually focus upon Christ or the Theotokos (the Virgin Mary), but could vary widely to other lesser-encountered saints and passages, even to those more native to the Orthodox church in the Russian dominion. The various images would generally be painted in tempera, a type of paint mixed with egg, and featured a gilt-infused background in order to elevate the flair and magnificence. Later additions to the practice would include a "protective" layer made out of tin, bronze, or silver known as an "oklad" or "riza," allowing both the image beneath to be somewhat protected along with the oklad itself to be further adorned and embellished by the silversmith–adding to the majesty and dazzling nature of the icon.
One of the more venerated icons in the entirety of Russian orthodoxy, the image of "Our Lady of Vladimir" is a type of eleusa, in that it shows the Virgin of Tenderness, or one with the Infant Christ nestled against her cheek. The original traces its origins to 12th century Byzantium, painted by an unknown artist and traveled to Kyiv before being brought to the Assumption Cathedral in Vladimir, some 120 miles east of Moscow. Throughout its history, it has been the focal point of several miracles and has been of undying historical importance to all of Russia. As such, icons of this particular type have a pointed degree of reverence within Russian orthodoxy.
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