A Magnificent Hand-Painted Orthodox Icon of the Resurrection
The given hand-painted Orthodox icon of the Resurrection is a beautiful piece of religious art, dating back to the late 19th — early 20th century. Apart from its religious functions, it also served as an agrarian calendar for the Russian people. Keep reading to learn more about Russian Orthodox holidays and the timeless icon painting tradition.
Orthodox icon of the Resurrection as a reflection of daily life
The main centerpiece of the given Orthodox icon of the Resurrection is depicting Jesus Christ coming back to life. The Resurrection as a motif often occurs on its own as a standalone icon, apparently being popular among religious people of all social backgrounds.
The 12 border scenes framing the centerpiece correspond to the 12 main religious Russian Orthodox holidays. For Russian people, it functioned as a calendar signifying the change of seasons, as well as the appropriate time for crops to be gathered.
The border scenes were traditionally read from left to right. The beginning of the year started with the Nativity of the Mother of God on September 8, which was followed by the Elevation of the Holy Cross on September 14. Fall was the time when the harvesting began, and the preparations for the freezing winters started. The Entrance of the Mother of God into the Temple marked the beginning of the sleigh-riding season. The main holiday for every Russian Orthodox family was, of course, the Nativity of Christ (better known to English-speaking readers as Christmas) on December 25. Its celebration was joined with another holiday, Svyatki, which originated in pre-Christian times and has pagan roots. During the holidays, Russian Orthodox believers engaged in ritual practices, for example, the symbolic fist-fighting or the blessings of water and food to cure sickness and ensure a good harvest. The branches of the pussy willow were blessed in churches on the Feast of the Entrance into Jerusalem.
This Orthodox icon of the Resurrection is reflective of the ‘artistic’ style that was growing in popularity in late 19th-century Russian icon art. Moreover, the influences of academic art are visible in the composition and perspective of the image. The style of this icon is also reminiscent of the murals of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow: icon painters of that time often imitated the composition and details of its Festive tier and pylons.
The fact that the centerpiece depicts the scene of “The Rising from the Tomb” instead of the “Harrowing of Hades” allows us to trace the tendencies in the iconography of that period.