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Icon

  • Place of origin:

    Russia (made)

  • Date:

    first half of 17th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silver parcel-gilt

  • Museum number:

    M.32-1971

  • Gallery location:

    Sacred Silver & Stained Glass, Room 83, The Whiteley Galleries, case 6B

This icon may have come from the Russian Orthodox church, where the veneration of holy images has always been of great importance. It contains a picture of the Virgin and Child mounted in silver-gilt. The shutters are engraved with the figures of St Nilus and the Prophet Elias, both pointing to the icon inside.

The hoop at the top and two hoops on the shutters suggest that the icon was once suspended.

Physical description

Painted icon of the Virgin and Child, mounted in silver parcel-gilt. The triptych is of usual arched form. The exterior is plain, except for a beaded moulding down the inner side of the left shutter, and ungilt. Inside the metal is gilt, and the shutters are engraved with figures of St Nilus and the prophet Elias pointing to the icon inside. The flesh of the Virgin and Child is dark. The Virgin wears a green robe and so does the Child; her mantle is dark crimson edged with orange. The folds of the drapery in gilt. A hoop at the top and two hoops on the shutters for suspension.

Place of Origin

Russia (made)

Date

first half of 17th century (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Silver parcel-gilt

Marks and inscriptions

One shutter of the icon is engraved with the name of St Nilus and the other with the name of the prophet Elias.

Dimensions

Height: 3.5 cm, Width: 4.9 cm

Object history note

Purchased for £55. from Dr Hildburgh Bequest. Received from Cameo Corner

Historical context note

The Eastern Churches
The history of the church around and beyond the eastern Mediterranean is complex. The earliest eastern churches were established in Antioch, Alexandria and other cities in the 1st century. They were independent communities and theological controversy sharpened their differences.

In 330 Constantinople (now Istanbul) became the capital of the Roman empire. Successive bishops of Constantinople, later given the title of patriarch, gradually won authority over other eastern churches, despite the opposition of the pope. Churches that accepted the jurisdiction of the patriarch became known as Orthodox, but others, including those of Armenia and Ethiopia, developed along separate lines. Diversity of practice and doctrine in the eastern churches is reflected in the different kinds of regalia and sacred silver. Yet some forms such as the chalice are common to all, indicating a shared core of beliefs.

Descriptive line

Silver, parcel-gilt, Russia, ca.1600-50

Labels and date

Icon
This icon comes from the Russian Orthodox church, where the veneration of holy images has always been of great importance. It contains a picture of the Virgin and Child mounted in silver-gilt. The shutters are engraved with the figures of St Nilus and the Prophet Elias, both pointing to the icon inside.

The hoop at the top and two hoops on the shutters suggest that the icon was once suspended.

Russian, 1600-50. Silver
Museum no. M.32-1971 [22/11/2005]

Materials

Silver; Gold

Techniques

Gilding

Categories

Religion; Metalwork; Christianity

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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