5. The Holy Visage

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19th century. Vetka?
Wood, lewkas, tempera.
Size: 35x32x3 cm.

Highly professional level of painting; attention to details of the creases and ornaments of garments, textures of faces, beards and hair. In very good condition.

An interesting story explains the traditional origin of this type of the icon. During New Testament times King Abgar of the Syrian city of Edessa felt ill and sent his court artist Ananias to sketch an image of Christ. So great were the stories of Christ’s healing power, that King Abgar believed if only he could see an image of Jesus, he too could be healed. Ananias was unable to get close enough to sketch Christ. However, knowing this, Christ sought him out in the crowd and pressed a cloth to his own face, miraculously imprinting it with his image and telling Ananias to take the cloth to Abgar. Upon seeing the cloth, Abgar was healed but retained a slight touch of his former illness until Thaddeus, a disciple of Christ, came and baptized him. Because the image appeared miraculously and was not painted, it is called “The Image Not Made by Hands.” It is also sometimes referred to as the “first icon”. In this example, like many, the cloth is held by two angels. The short inscription at the top is the Greek for “Jesus Christ.” The head of Christ is surrounded by the distinctive cross-halo inscribed with the Greek words HO ON, meaning “Who Is,” found in Revelation 1:8 and given in Exodus 3:14 as a title of God. The inscription at the bottom of the cloth reads, “The Image of Christ Not Made by Hands.” This image should not be confused with the Roman Catholic story of “Veronica’s Veil,” which is a later development of the Abgar legend. This sample reveals a more life-like depiction of Christ in the style which became popular after the great schism at 1653. The painter was obviously influenced by the works of Simon Ushakov, the famous Moscow Armory School icon painter of the late 17th and early 18th century.

This icon has museum and collection level.

Price: 4000 Euro

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