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Large Russian Icon - 15-Panel Portable Iconostasis

This folding shrine replicates in miniature the iconostasis, the screen of icons separating the sanctuary from the nave in Russian Orthodox churches. For Old Believer sects, who were not allowed to maintain churches and who often fled persecution by the official church, portable iconostases like this one preserved the true order and sanctity of the sacred realm. 

This icon is composed of fifteen folding panels, each divided into five registers. In the lowest register of the central panel is the image of the Royal Doors under the image of the Last Supper flanked by the full-figured depictions of the Virgin Mary and St. John the Baptist. Next to them are the archangels Michael and Gabriel and other Saints of the extended Deisis. To the right and left of Michael and Gabriel standing in prayer. The middle register depicts fifteen scenes from the lives of Christ and the Mother of God, laid out in a continuous narrative from left to right. Above them is a row of the locally venerated saints and miracle-working Virgins, after that a row of Apostles and Evangelists. The upper register depicts fourteen Old Testament prophets in three-quarter length. Each prophet holds a scroll (except for Noah, who holds the ark).

The panels are connected to each other with metal hinges and fold on top of each other for transport and storage. The high quality of painting on the solid gold ground indicates that the iconostasis was made to the order of a well-to-do member of the Old Believers' community in Russia. The style is traditional and dates to the second half of the 19th century.

Provenance: Sotheby's London, 2003

Additional Info

  • ID#: 4-RSMI-8
  • Size: 20 1/2 x 54 3/4 in (52 x 139 cm)
  • Age: ca. 19th century
  • Origin: Old Believer's workshop
  • Materials: Egg tempera and gilding on gessoed wood
  • Price: SOLD!
  • Orthodox Cross


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