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Exhibited 19th C. Russian Icon, 40 Martyrs of Sebaste



Russia, ca. 19th century CE. An impressive composition depicting an emotional rendition of the mass martyrdom of Sebaste, finely painted in egg tempera and gold leaf on wood, the scene surrounded by a beautiful polychrome raised border that was painstakingly adorned with a floral design. While many icons address the martyrdom of particular saints, icons presenting imagery of mass martyrdoms are quite rare. Perhaps the most famous of these tragic stories is the Martyrs of Sebaste depicted on this example. Size: 24.25" W x 14" H (61.6 cm x 35.6 cm)

The backstory behind the iconography of this scene is as follows. Forty Roman legionnaires refused to renounce their faith. As a consequence, Emperor Licinius ordered these Christian soldiers to be exposed naked on a frozen lake near Sebaste, where they eventually froze to death. In this example, the artist poignantly captures the martyrs

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