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19th C. Russian Icon w/ Brass Oklad - Pantokrator

Eastern Europe, Russia, ca. 1850 CE. Finely painted in egg tempera and varnish on linen and wood and covered with a beautiful brass oklad (riza or oklad, literally means trimming), an icon of Christ Pantokrator, Lord of the Universe, holding an open holy Gospel in his left hand, the fingers of his right hand giving benediction, arranged to form the initials of Christ’s monogram, IC XC T. The oklad embellishing the image with a meticulously cut and engraved nimbus, as well as intricately engraved lovely robes, the open book, and border adorned with stylized geometric patterns. Set in a custom, ornate gilded frame. Size: 17.75" L x 15.875" W (45.1 cm x 40.3 cm) framed; visible image measures 8.375" L x 6.625" W (21.3 cm x 16.8 cm)

The oklad or riza, sometimes referred to as a revetment in English, is a metal cover, in this case brass, 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. This artisan truly knew how to work with brass in a manner that both complements and uplifts the painted image.

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. Some icons, like this example, are encased in precious metal covers (oklads). Icons are not worshiped, but are instead venerated for their ability to focus the power of an individual's prayer to God. As such they are truly "windows into heaven."

Condition: Painting shows wonderful craquelure and two small areas of repainting, but overall very good. Oklad shows some bending and slight wear. Frame excellent.

Provenance: private Ventura County, California, USA collection

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