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Wedding Pair of Fine Russian Icons - Christ and Our Lady of Kazan in silver, pearl, and enamel revetment cover

A fine matching pair of ca. 1900-1908 wedding icons of the Kazan Mother of God and Christ Pantocrator made by an important silversmith, Purveyor to the Imperial Household, firm of P. Ovchinnikov in Moscow.

Icon of Christ Pantocrator and Kazan Mother of God held in cloisonné, champlevé, and filigree enamel oklad and halos and pearl embroidery garments. Both oklads framed with half-columns enameled with Byzantine-inspired ornament, the grounds similarly enameled with a Byzantine-inspired turquoise filigree enamel with a pattern of interwoven hearts. The oklads applied with shaped crowns enameled in brightly colored cloisonné enamels and with seed pearls mounted on the points. Both figures are draped in finely couched pearl embroidery. Christ is shown holding a shaped plate forming the open pages of the Gospel on which is enameled in blue champlevé a passage from John 13:34-35 (“A new commandment I give you: Love one another..."). The reverse of each covered with deep brown silk velvet.

The Wedding Icons is a matching pair of icons - usually one of the Holy Savior and the other of the Mother of God - made in the same style to be presented by the families of the parents to the newlyweds. As the Orthodox tradition goes, after the Sacrament of Matrimony, the priest gives the bridegroom an icon of the Savior and the bride an icon of the Most Holy Theotokos. During the service, the icons are held within the folds of an embroidered linen cloth by children (in lieu of ring bearers). These icons accompany the married couple throughout their lives and are the main icons in their home icon corner.

The gold- and silversmithing firm founded by Pavel Akimovich Ovchinnikov (1830-1888) was one of the most important producers of luxury wares in Russia during the last quarter of the nineteenth century and before 1917. In 1865, Ovchinnikov’s firm was named Purveyor to the Court of the Heir Tsesarevich Alexander Alexandrovich (the future Alexander III), giving Ovchinnikov the rare and prestigious right to use the Imperial Warrant (the State Seal of the Russian Empire) together with his maker’s mark. He would later be named a Supplier to the Imperial Court (1872) as well as to Grand Duke Mikhail Nikolaevich (1878), King Vittorio Emanuele II (1874), and Christian IX of Denmark (1888). Throughout the period leading up to World War I, the firm continued to innovate, introducing early examples of translucent red and opaque black enamels (both difficult colors to achieve), plique-à-jour, the use of paillons in cloisonné, and pastel matte enamels. In addition to grand table services, Ovchinnikov was a popular maker of liturgical silver and covers for personal icons, church icons, and church iconostases. The firm received frequent orders for icons and church silver for members of the Imperial Family and their Orthodox Christian relatives. After the founder’s death in 1888, the firm continued to thrive under the management of his sons Mikhail, Alexander, Pavel, and Nikolai as well as their wives and children. In 1917, the company ceased to exist and in 1918, most probably, the stores, workshops, and school in Moscow were nationalized

Additional Info

  • ID#: 15-30-SSi-35
  • Size: 4 3⁄4 x 4 1⁄4 in. (12.7 x 10.8 cm), each
  • Age: ca. 1900-1908
  • Origin: Moscow, Russia
  • Materials: Oil on zinc panel, gilded silver, enamel, seed pearls, linen, cotton, wood inserts, silk velvet
  • Price: Price upon request
  • Silver
  • Orthodox Cross

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