19th-Century Orthodox Resurrection Icon, with Border Scenes
The presented hand-painted Orthodox Resurrection icon is a gorgeous piece of religious artwork dated to the end of the 19th century. It was most likely created by the icon painters of the Vladimir region. The work perfectly displays the master’s highly developed skills and reflects the long-developed tradition of Orthodox icon painting in the Russian Empire.
Orthodox Resurrection icon: Russian iconographic tradition
The given Orthodox Resurrection icon was painted in the late 19th century. It possesses features commonly observed in iconographical images of the period. The colors used in painting the icon are rather muted and dark, with many olive-brown accents in the border scenes. The dryness of the gold leaf details on the vestments of the figures also points to the date of origin of this religious art piece. The icon, however, incorporates some of the details referencing older iconographic traditions. For example, ornaments of flowers on the borders closely resemble the silverwork that was common in the 17th century. Along with that, the intricate details of these ornaments reflect the style popular in the middle-late 19th century.
This Orthodox Resurrection icon probably once served as a personal iconostasis back when it was used by generations of families not only for prayer but also for more practical purposes.
The icon depicts the Resurrection scene in the center and the twelve Church Feasts in the border scenes. This compositional arrangement was frequently used for icons of this type. Icon paintings featuring Church Feasts were used as agricultural calendars. Each holiday was connected to a specific type of event in the daily life of a typical Orthodox Russian household. In a way, it served as a reminder of when the crops were supposed to be gathered, or when preparations for the changing of seasons had to begin.
There were also many rituals performed during each Feast. They were closely tied to the everyday life of Russian peasants who wanted to ensure their families and possessions were protected from illness, misfortune, and the devil’s tricks. Thus, blessings of food and water were part of most of the religious holidays. According to the ecclesiastical calendar, the border scenes of the given Orthodox Resurrection icon start from the Nativity of the Mother of God and end with the Dormition of the Mother of God.
It is also interesting that instead of the traditional depictions of the Four Evangelists in the corners of the icon, this one features four more Orthodox Church Feasts (Pentecost, the Pokrov, the Beheading of John the Baptist, and the Prophet Elias in the Desert), expanding the Festive Cycle.