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19th C. Russian Icon - St. John Evangelist

$1,195.00
Russia, ca. 19th century CE. A fine depiction of Saint John the Evangelist, beautifully painted in egg tempera and gold leaf on wood, set in an integral ornately carved, diamond-shaped gilt wood frame. Seated before his writing table equipped with quill in inkwell, Saint John looks pensively at the pages of his Gospel. To the left is John's symbol, the eagle, one of the creatures envisioned by Ezekiel (1:10) and in the Revelation to John (4:7). Donning his characteristic blue-green and red robes with gold highlights, Saint John is presented as an elderly man; other icons present him as a beardless young disciple. Similar to the Baptist –as a bearded old man- he merits Jesus’ sobriquet for him – the “Son of Thunder.” Size: 13" L x 12.875" W (33 cm x 32.7 cm)

Images of the evangelists derived from miniatures of illuminated Gospel books and Gospel lectionaries showing them at work in their scriptoria. Such portrayals were oftentimes painted on the outside of the royal doors. John’s symbol is the eagle, chosen for the “sublime manner in which he described the godliness of the Word” according to Christian iconography expert Alfredo Tradigo, who writes, “of all the evangelists, he flew the highest.” (Tradigo, "Icons and Saints of the Eastern Orthodox Church" Getty Museum, 2006, p. 262) Also known as John the Theologian for his ability to channel divine wisdom, Saint John wrote the fourth Gospel (the Book of Revelation), while living in a cave on the isle of Patmos, exiled by Emperor Trajan. There he dictated a dramatic vision of the Apocalypse to the deacon Prochorus, his disciple and steadfast companion. John also wrote the “Gospel of Love” or the “flower of the Gospel” as Origen calls it – in addition to three of the Catholic Epistles. In the words of Patriarch Athenagoras, “John is the source of our loftiest spirituality. Like him, those who are silent know the mysterious confusion that can assail the heart; invoking the presence of John, their hearts catch fire.” (Tradigo, 262)

Condition: Frame shows age cracks and minor losses. Painted icon bows out a bit, but this was intended by the artist. Minor surface wear and pigment/gilt losses.

Provenance: Ex- private Ventura County, CA collection.

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