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Late 18th C. Russian Icon - Vision of St. Sergii

Eastern Europe, Russia, ca. late 18th to early 19th century CE. A stunning rendition of the Vision of St. Sergii (as identified in the inscription) in egg tempera and gold leaf on wood. Sergii was a 14th century monk who founded a monastery in the forest northwest of Moscow which is now among the largest and most powerful of Russia, known as the Trinity-Sergii (or Sergius) Lavra (Lavra a term referring to a particularly large Orthodox monastery). The monastery was dedicated to the Trinity (hence the Hospitality of Abraham at the top); however, at some point Sergii had a vision of Mary accompanied by the Apostles Peter and John depicted in this icon. The kneeling monk is most likely Sergii, and the figure next to him may be his brother Stefan, who co-founded the monastery with Sergii. The figures occupying the margins are an archangel and St. Demeterios, who were probably patron saints of the commissioner. Size: 10" W x 12" H (25.4 cm x 30.5 cm)

Above is an image of the Trinity referencing chapter 18 of the Book of Genesis in which three angels appeared to Abraham at the Oak of Mamre, probably inspired by the famous icon by Andrei Rublev (ca. 1408-1425), as Sergii's monastery was dedicated to the Trinity. It depicts the angels seated at a table with Abraham and his wife Sarah, both of a smaller scale, attending to the visitors. Due to the generosity directed toward the three visitors, this scene is also known as the 'Hospitality of Abraham' and some scholars have interpreted the figures as prefiguring the New Testament Trinity.

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 such they are truly "windows into heaven."

Condition: Expected surface wear with scuffs and losses as shown. Losses to peripheries and corners as well, but the imagery and inscriptions are still relatively vivid.

Provenance: ex-Francis & Lilly Robicsek collection, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA

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