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A Pair of Russian Orthodox Royal Doors from a Church iconostasis

Russian Orthodox Royal Doors from a Church iconostasis dating to the first half of the 19th century . The doors are painted with an icon of the Annunciation along the upper register and the Evangelist Saints Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John below. Two small rectangular panels on the lowest register are painted with gilt foliage on a red ground. Each icon within a gilded framing wood border and the entire composition is held within shaped carved gilt wood borders.

Condition: Fair. Extensive craquelure throughout all painted surfaces. The icons have sustained small losses. The large bands of gilding surrounding the icons have mostly been lost and the ochre ground is visible.

The Royal Doors, Holy Doors, or Beautiful Gates are the central doors of the iconostasis in an Eastern Orthodox church. In Orthodox Churches, the sanctuary (sometimes called the Altar, which contains the Holy Table) is separated from the nave by a wooden screen called the iconostasis. The iconostasis represents Christian continuity from the veil of the Temple in Jerusalem which separated the people from the Holy of Holies that housed the Ark of the Covenant. Normally, the iconostasis has three doors in it. The central double doors are the "holy doors", which are considered to be most sacred, and may only be entered at certain sacred moments during the services, and only by ordained clergy. A typical gate consists of two hinged doors made of wood or metal and usually have painted on them an icon of the Annunciation in the form of a diptych (the Theotokos on the right door, and the Archangel Gabriel on the left) with the four Evangelists. Theologically the Holy Doors represent the gates of Jerusalem, through which Christ entered on Palm Sunday. They also represent the entrance to the Heavenly Jerusalem. In the Russian practice, there are detailed rules as to when the doors are to be opened during Vespers, Matins and the Divine Liturgy. When the gates are opened, it represents moments when God is especially present to his people, such as during the reading of the Gospel, or when the faithful are receiving Holy Communion. Most of the time the doors are closed. This is symbolic of penitence, a reminder that sin separates the individual from God.

Additional Info

  • ID#: 43-61-SSI-5
  • Size: 77 x 38 in. (195.6 x 96.5 cm)
  • Age: ca. 1800-1850
  • Origin: Old Believer's workshop, Vyetka (?)
  • Materials: Wood, tempera, gesso, gilding
  • Price: SOLD!
  • Orthodox Cross
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