Wed, Oct 18, 2017 10:00AM EDT - Thu, Oct 19, 2017 10:00AM EDT
A RUSSIAN ICON OF THE SAVIOUR OF SMOLENSK, 18TH CENTURY
Christ represented standing in a frontal position, his right hand raised in a blessing gesture and his left hand holding the Gospels, to either side of Him in all probability St Varlaam Khutynski and St. Sergius of Radonezh, kneeling in prayer at his feet. Egg tempera and gesso on wood panel with kovcheg. Two insert splints on the back. 31.2 x 26.4 cm (12 1/4 x 10 7/16 in.)
During the 1920s and 1930s, the new Soviet government was in desparate need of hard currency. One of the ways that they achieved this goal was to sell religious icons (which had no place in a newly atheistic society) to wealthy westerners visiting the new country. These icons would be sold in commission shops and the "MOSGOSTORG" antiques and art shops to diplomats and other visitors. Countless treasures left the country, and in this way, some of the best known collections of Russian icons and works of art in the West were formed. One of the main businessman to take advantage of this opportunity was the especially shrewd Armand Hammer, who exported the icons and works to the United States and began marketing them to the American public starting in 1931 in exhibitions such as Fine Russian Icons and Relics from Royal Russia at their "L"Ermitage Galleries", and later through numerous wildly successful department store sales across the country.
MOSGOSTORG label circa 1930s on the verso stating that the icon is dated from the XVI-XVII centuries
Acquired by the descendants of Alexander Ivanovich Nelidov (1835-1910), Russian Ambassador to Turkey, Italy and France
Collection of the Nelidov family to the present day