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19th C. Russian Icon - St. Nicholas the Wonderworker

Eastern Europe, Russia, ca. 1810 to 1830 CE. Finely delineated in egg tempera and gold leaf on wood, an icon depicting the miracle-working St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, the most widely revered saint in Eastern Orthodox Christianity, flanked by apparitions of Christ and the Theotokos (Mother of God), and a guardian angel and St. John the Evangelist on the margins - all with glowing gold leaf halos. Believed to possess special powers to protect the faithful, this archetypal Bishop and Saint is dressed in sumptuous episcopal vestments, with a cross adorned omophorion, giving benediction with his right hand, holding a Gospel in his left. The detail on Nicholas' vestments is quite impressive. Size: 17.375" L x 14.125" W (44.1 cm x 35.9 cm)

Nicholas, a Greek bishop of Myra, Anatolia in the 4th century and one of the most beloved saints of the church, who served as an intercessor, performing miracles of healing and rescue, has an interesting history. A strong opponent of the heretical bishop Arius at the Council of Nicaea, Nicholas, after slapping Arius in the face, was denied his holy insignia and tossed in jail. However, Christ and the Virgin appeared to him and gave him back his freedom and his episcopal office. Here shown with a serious countenance, a high furrowed forehead, concentrating eyes framed by arched brows, and a short, gray beard, Saint Nicholas is portrayed as a staunch champion of the Christian faith, a defender against heresy, and a healer.

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. Icons are not worshiped, but are instead venerated for their ability to focus the power of an individual's prayer to God. As a focus for prayers and meditation for believers, icons serve as "windows into heaven."

Condition: This icon was made from three wood panels, and there is some separation between two of these and an old repair to stabilize it. Surface wear with some scratches and losses as shown. Missing one back slat. Remaining back slat nailed to verso to stabilize.

Provenance: private Ventura County, California, USA collection, purchased before 1990

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