Eastern Europe, Russia, ca. early 19th century CE. A stunning mold formed openwork bronze icon displaying a central Russian Orthodox crucifix bearing an emaciated Christ above a skull, below God the Father with two angels, and flanked by Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James to his right and Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus to his left. Beautifully formed in high relief, the lovely devotional piece features six squares bearing different biblical scenes, including (from bottom left to bottom right): a mounted St. George trampling the dragon, the beheading of John the Baptist, Elizabeth and John the Baptist as a child, the Virgin Mary enthroned holding baby Jesus, the Holy Trinity, and Longinus and another Roman centurion on horseback. The golden hued icon is embellished with lustrous cobalt, sky blue, yellow, black, and white enamel. A gorgeous example from the Eastern Orthodox Church! Size: 9.5" W x 9.25" H (24.1 cm x 23.5 cm)
Icons (icon means "image" in Greek) are sacred objects within the Eastern Orthodox Christian tradition. Found in homes as well as churches, these painted images depict holy persons and saints as well as illustrate scenes from the Scriptures. Some icons are encased in precious metal covers (oklads) adorned with pearls and semi-precious stones or glass-fronted wooden cases (kiots) or as we see in this example, decorated with liberal gold leaf strapwork and faux enamelwork. Icons are not worshiped, but are instead venerated for their ability to focus the power of an individual's prayer to God. As such they are truly "windows into heaven."
Provenance: ex Estate of Eldert Bontekoe, Pegasi Numismatics, Ann Arbor, Michigan USA acquired before 2000
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A small white collection label with information from the previous owner is on the back. Stable minor hairline fissure through St. George scene on left. A few nicks and indentations to backside commensurate with age. Expected light fading of details in relief and chipping to paint. Otherwise, intact and excellent.