Russian Icons: Spirit and Beauty. Amsterdam Dealer Brings Important Icons to London in November

  • LONDON, United Kingdom
  • /
  • October 21, 2014

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Rare 19th century Travelling Iconostasis, Russia, Old Believers Workshop, 44.5 x 159 cm
Jan Morsink Ikonen

An exceptional exhibition Russian Icons: Spirit and Beauty, comprising a collection of forty Russian and Greek icons dating from the 15th to the 19th centuries, will be staged by Jan Morsink Ikonen of Amsterdam at Trinity House, 50 Maddox Street, London W1S 1AY, from Saturday 22 November to Thursday 27 November 2014. This will be the second time that Jan Morsink Ikonen, one of the leading international specialists in the field, has exhibited in London as part of Russian Art Week, a bi-annual event launched in 2012 by the online arts magazine Russian Art and Culture.

Royal Doors, Russia, Volga Region, first half 17th century, 154.5 x 70 cm
Jan Morsink Ikonen

Simon Morsink said “We are returning to London for Russian Art Week because we met some very interesting new Russian clients last year. We sold to both Russian and European collectors who were well informed and looking for the rarest works, reflecting the serious interest from both the Eastern and Western worlds. For this year’s London exhibition, we are showing excellent examples of the various schools’ high quality painting reflecting the deep spirituality and beauty of Russian and Greek orthodox art.”

Highlights include a rare and complete 19th century Russian Travelling Iconostasis painted in miniature style comprising fifteen hinged panels that can be folded up into a convenient package. This type of icon was easy to transport when travelling from a summer to a winter residence and vice versa. At the final destination, the icon would be unfolded and used as a domestic iconostasis in a private chapel. Such icons were also used to celebrate the liturgy outdoors, on military campaigns for example. The refined style of the painting indicates that the icon must have been produced in a leading workshop and probably by the community called the Old Believers, who painted the most refined icons during the 18th and 19th centuries holding fast to the old traditions of Russian Orthodoxy. (Price: Euro 48,000)

An early Russian Annunciation from Stroganov, circa 1600, is painted in bright colours with the Archangel Gabriel holding a messenger staff and making a gesture of blessing towards the Virgin Mary against a stylised architectural background. The refined style of the painting, particularly the unusual iconographic details, points towards an innovative workshop where new iconographic features were being introduced. The Stroganov workshops were a centre of these new developments around 1600. (Price: Euro 28,000)                                                                                                                           

A rare pair of Russian Royal Doors from the Volga region, dating from the first half of the 17th century and formerly in the collection of The William Rockhill Nelson Trust, Kansas City, Missouri, USA, features theologians Basil the Great and John Chrysostom, the fathers of the liturgy. Royal Doors are the two panels at the centre of the iconostasis which connect the nave with the sanctuary in the Russian Orthodox Church. They are called ‘Royal’ because it is believed that Jesus Christ, the King of Glory, is carried through them during the celebration of the liturgy. The opening of the Royal Doors signifies the opening of the Royal Kingdom for believers while their closing reminds them of the eviction from the Garden of Eden after the Fall. The Annunciation is depicted on the dome-shaped top of the doors. The Annunciation is understood as the beginning of the Incarnation, for which reason it was depicted on the Royal Doors, the entrance to the sanctuary where the liturgy is performed. (Price on request)

Annunciation with St Christoforos and St Aleksander Svirskii (with silver gilt jewelled oklad) Russia, Yaroslavl, mid 17th century, 31.5 x 25.5 cm
Jan Morsink Ikonen

Collectors will be delighted to have the opportunity to see the exquisite mid 17th century Russian icon of the Annunciation with St Christoforos and St Aleksander Svirskii from Yaroslavl, kindly loaned to the exhibition by its private owner in London. It has a particularly impressive provenance having been in the collection of Ambassador Laurence A. Steinhardt (1892-1950), New York City, USA, who in 1939 was appointed Ambassador to the Soviet Union by President Roosevelt.

Some 80% of the icons in the exhibition are Russian, the remainder are Greek and Veneto-Cretan. The latter is represented by a superb small, early 16th century icon depicting the Madre della Consolazione made for private devotion. The Italian title refers to the suffering of Christ as anticipated by his mother. The iconography of the Madre della Consolazione type is of Western origin, clearly influenced by Italian prototypes from the 14th century and probably introduced to the Orthodox-Christian world by the famous icon painter Nikolaos Tzafouris in the second half of the 15th century. (Price: Euro 24,000)

A late 16th century Greek icon depicts St George half-length in military attire against a gold background. The style of painting points towards a workshop in Northern Greece or Macedonia. (Price: Euro 22,000)

Jan Morsink Ikonen
Keizersgracht 454
Amsterdam, Netherlands
+31 20 620 0411

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