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Early 18th C. Russian Icon of John The Baptist

Eastern Europe, Russia, ca. 1710 to 1730 CE. Painted in egg tempera and gesso on linen and wood, an icon depicting St. John the Baptist wearing his traditional camel hair tunic with a green himation over it. A large halo encircles his visage. Also referred to as the Angel of the Desert (because he was a preacher and hermit in the southern desert of Judea), the forerunner of Christ, the last of the Old Testament prophets, and the first saint, John the Baptist is one of the most popular and venerated figures in Orthodox hagiography. Traditionally depicted next to Christ and his mother, he also occupies a coveted position in the Deesis tier of the iconostasis. Size: 13.25" L x 11" W (33.7 cm x 27.9 cm)

Icons were some of the first religious artworks brought to Russia from Byzantium. These sacred pictures of the Greek Orthodox church reached a high point in the Byzantine era, however, the Russians brought their own style to the art of the icon. Icons were initially created for use in churches and processions. In time they became smaller and were used increasingly within households. To this day they remain an important form of visual culture in Russia's orthodox religious community.

Condition: Missing one back slat; the remaining one has separated from the icon but is still there. Craquelure to the painted surfaces. Holes suggest that an oklad was once attached. Surface wear with losses as shown.

Provenance: private Ventura County, California, USA collection

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