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18th C. Russian Painted Wood Iconostasis, Bronze Oklads

Russia, ca. 18th century CE. A portable iconostasis comprised of 15 folding hinged panels including a central double panel with 14 side panels presenting 4 finely painted registers, each icon neatly identified in handwritten Cyrillic. The uppermost register depicts half-length portrayals of patriarchs and prophets surrounding God the Father and the Son floating upon billowing clouds in the celestial realm on the central lunette; next, full-length saints engaged in intercessionary prayer; then a central register of painted icons commemorating feast days, each one with silvered bronze oklads, executed in repousse and pierced to reveal elements of the painted figures; finally, in the lowest register, a central panel depicting Christ the Savior Enthroned holding the gospel on his knees surrounded by a blue mandorla with faint monochromatic images of angels and a red rhombus with signs of the 4 evangelists occupying the corners, surrounded by smaller full-length panels depicting the Virgin, various archangels, and saints. Size: 61.625" L x 19.75" H (156.5 cm x 50.2 cm)

An iconostasis is a wall of icons arranged in tiers according to strict theological and iconographical guidelines that traditionally separates the sanctuary and the nave of a church, symbolizing a visual synthesis of Orthodox Christians' spirituality and faith. It is meant to be read both horizontally and vertically. This example included not only beautifully painted icons rendered in rich jewel tones with fine-line technique, but also features thirteen icons embellished with bronze oklads. The oklad or riza, sometimes referred to as a revetment in English, is a metal cover (made of silver, gilded silver, or bronze, as we see in this example) that not only protects the icon, but also serves to honor or venerate the figure(s) depicted on the icon. Oklads are usually adorned with repousse work and pierced to reveal elements of the underlying painting.

Condition: One icon on the rightmost panel has a small loss, and there are a few nicks and pigment losses here and there, but overall, the painted icons are in very good condition. One nail missing from central oklad. Minor tarnish to oklads as shown. Hinges show minor tarnish, but are all there and serviceable.

Provenance: private Ventura County, California, USA collection

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