What to Consider When Buying a Religious Icon?

The tradition of painting Eastern Orthodox icons is known throughout the world. It started in 988 AD, following the conversion of Kievan Rus’ to Orthodox Christianity. Thereby, Russian religious icons have a special importance, as they are considered to be more than just paintings – they are windows into the spiritual realm. Moreover, Orthodox Christian icons are famous for their distinctive style of painting, not to mention their influence on Eastern cultural development. Unfortunately, many of the valuable antique Russian icons were lost years ago. However, there are still unique masterpieces of religious icon art available for admiration and sometimes even for sale. The icons of Jesus Christ, the icons of the Mother of God, the icons of saints, the festal icons – all of them are wonderful works of talented and, in most cases, unknown iconographers, who managed to carry their traditions through the centuries. In this way, if you are a Christian believer, an Orthodox icon collector, or just appreciate such a beautiful expression of faith, then most likely you will want to buy one of the modern religious icons or even museum-quality Russian icons sooner or later. So let us draw your attention to several important points you should consider when purchasing a religious icon.

1. Authenticity

No one wants to buy a fake! So the first thing to pay attention to is definitely the authenticity of the antique icon. The best way to avoid disappointment is to use services of a reliable Eastern Orthodox icon dealer, who has a wealth of experience and an expansive archive of required information.

2. Condition

The religious icon condition is another important thing to consider. The fact is that the inept repair can significantly reduce the value. So once again, you need a reputable dealer capable of telling you about possible restoration works or any other form of intervention. Professional Eastern Orthodox icon dealers see numerous religious icons every day, which makes them qualified enough to assess the significance of restoration works.

3. Quality

Always buy the best religious icon you can afford! How to determine which is the best? Learn about Eastern Orthodox icons and the history of their creation. The more you know, the easier you will find a truly worthy icon. Besides, you can always use appraisal services provided by experienced dealers and professional companies.

4. Provenance

Provenance is required for any antique icon. It can help establish the item’s title, art-historical importance, and authenticity as well. However, be aware of a “too good to be true” provenance, as it may come with a professional fake. On the other hand, the absence of a complete provenance is also a cause for alarm. In this way, choose only reputable Eastern Orthodox icon dealers you can trust.

5. Rarity

Finally, let’s not forget about the rarity, as, in most cases, it tends to enhance the religious icon value. For this reason, museum-quality items are the most sought after yet very hard to find on sale.

Be very careful when purchasing a religious icon and always consider all practical points written above. The best you can do is trust professionals!

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