101783 | RUSSIA. "Jesus Christ, Pantokrator" wooden Icon.
101783 | RUSSIA. "Jesus Christ, Pantokrator" wooden Icon. Made circa 1870-1890 (220mm x 270mm, ~700 g).
Silver and gilt oklad: Image of Jesus Christ–elaborately draped, with radiant nimbus crown, holding orb and scepter, and raising hand in benediction; openings revealing his head, neck, and hands, all of which are painted in tempera atop wood; elaborate scrollwork around, with medallions to upper left and right reading IC – XC. Back and sides: Wood exposed, with the oklad hammered into the wood on each side; a prayer has been written across the back in fourteen lines, some of which has begun to fade.
Extremely Fine. Light gilt appearance to the oklad on the nimbus crown, with more of a gunmetal gray nature to the remainder; incredible detail overall, and a large, majestic, and moving piece of art.
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.
The image of Jesus that has become known as "Christ Pantokrator" dates to 6th or 7th century, with the first numismatic representation of Christ following shortly thereafter during the first reign of Byzantine emperor Justinian II in 685-695. In the iconography, Christ is portrayed with a subtly dual-natured face, with one side slightly calm and human, and the other slightly stern and devine. Meanwhile, he makes the benedicting gesture with one hand, while holding the Gospels in the other. The name of the imagery itself–pantokrator–emanates from the Greek, meaning the "all-powerful" or "omnipotent." It, and all of its derivations, is one of the most iconic pieces of imagery within Eastern Orthodoxy.
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