16 Icons from the Bible, with footnotes, #12

After LUCAS CRANACH THE ELDER (German circa 1472-1553)

Madonna and Child – circa 1850

Oil on canvas

21 inches x 16.75 inches (53.3 x 42.5 cm)

Private Collection

Lucas Cranach the Elder (c. 1472 16 October 1553) was a German Renaissance painter and printmaker in woodcut and engraving. He was court painter to the Electors of Saxony for most of his career, and is known for his portraits, both of German princes and those of the leaders of the Protestant Reformation, whose cause he embraced with enthusiasm, becoming a close friend of Martin Luther. He also painted religious subjects, first in the Catholic tradition, and later trying to find new ways of conveying Lutheran religious concerns in art. He continued throughout his career to paint nude subjects drawn from mythology and religion. He had a large workshop and many works exist in different versions; his son Lucas Cranach the Younger, and others, continued to create versions of his father’s works for decades after his death. Lucas Cranach the Elder has been considered the most successful German artist of his time. More Lucas Cranach the Elder

A SCARCE RUSSIAN ICON OF CHRIST EMMANUEL WITH ANGELS, 18TH CENTURY. 13 inches x 29.5 inches (33 x 75 cm)

Icon dates back to the pre-Mongol period of the 12th century. It is sometimes referred to as the “Angelic Deisis.” Others just call it “The Savior Emmanuel with Angels.” Although no inscriptions remain on the Tretyakov example the two angels are generally identified by their clothing as the Archangel Mikhail and Gabriel. The word Emmanuel is the Greek form of the Hebrew meaning God is with Us. Emmanuel is a representation of the Son, “begotten of the Father before all worlds”. More Emmanuel

Description: A LARGE AND FINELY PAINTED RUSSIAN ICON OF SELECTED SAINTS, 18TH CENTURY. 

33 inches x 19.8 inches (83.8 x 49.5 cm)

Private Collection

From the left to right they are the Holy Venerable Daniel Stolpnik (Stylite) (Below), the Holy Prophet Sophonias (Zephaniah) (Below), the Holy Martyr John the Warrior (Belowand the Venerable Savva of Zvenigorod (Below)

THE HOLY VENERABLE DANIEL THE STYLITE, CIRCA 1800, WITH MILITARY DEDICATION.

The painted icon overlaid with a silver repousse and chased riza with horizontal cartouche on lower margin engraved “1st Jaeger Regiment, 1st Battalion,  1st  Carabinier Company”. 16.1 inches x 6.5 inches (41 x 16.5 cm)

Private Collection

The Holy Venerable Daniel Stolpnik (Stylite) (410-490) is seen doing what stylites do, sit on pillars and pray. The word stylite is taken from the Greek and means pillar dweller. Therefore a stylite saint is a type of Christian ascetic who lived on pillars, preaching, fasting and praying. Stylites believed that the mortification of their bodies would help ensure the salvation of their souls. Stylites were common in the early days of the Byzantine Empire. 

Daniel the Stylite was a 5th century ascetic who spent 33 years atop a pillar after seeing a vision of Simeon the Stylite (Simeon Stolpnik). More Daniel the Stylite

Prophet Zephaniah, old Russian Orthodox icon

First quarter of XVIII century

Iconostasis of Kizhi Monastery, Karelia, Russia

Zephaniah. The most well-known Biblical figure bearing the name Zephaniah is the son of Cushi, and great, great grandson of King Hezekiah, ninth in the literary order of the minor prophets. He prophesied in the days of Josiah, king of Judah (B.C. 641-610). The only primary source from which we obtain our scanty knowledge of the personality and the rhetorical and literary qualities of this individual is the short book of the Old Testament which bears his name. The scene of his activity was the city of Jerusalem.

The cults of Baal and Astarte had developed in the Holy City, bringing with it elements of alien culture and morals. Josiah, a dedicated reformer, wished to put an end to perceived misuse of the holy places. One of the most zealous champions and advisers of this reform was Zephaniah, and his writing remains one of the most important documents for the understanding of the era of Josiah.

The prophet spoke boldly against the religious and moral corruption. He warned that God would “destroy out of this place the remnant of Baal, and pleaded for a return to the simplicity of their fathers. More Zephaniah

A RUSSIAN ICON OF SAINT JOHN THE WARRIOR WITH LIFE SCENES

PROBABLY YAROSLAVL, CIRCA 1800

12.9 inches x 10.5 inches (32.5 x 26.5 cm)

Private Collection

At center a full length image of John in Roman style military clothing holding a martyrs cross and flag. In the background various scenes from his life and at upper left Christ delivers a blessing. The faint inscription along the upper margin identifies the subject as, “An Image of the Holy Martyr John the Warrior” 

The Holy Martyr John the Warrior served in the imperial army of the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363). Amidst other soldiers he was dispatched to seek out and kill Christians. Keeping up the external appearances of being a persecutor, Saint John in fact rendered great help to persecuted Christians: those who had been arrested – he set free, others he warned of dangers threatening them, and assisted in their flight. Saint John showed charity not only to Christians, but to all the destitute and those needing help: he visited with the sick, and he consoled the grieving. When Julian the Apostate learned about the actions of the saint, he ordered him locked up in prison. 

AN ICON SHOWING ST. JOHN THE WARRIOR

Russian, 18th century 

Tempera on wood panel

32 x 27 cm.

Private Collection

In the year 363 Julian the Apostate was killed in his war with the Persians. Saint John was set free and devoted his life to service of neighbour, and he lived in holiness and purity. He died in his old age.

 The precise year of his death is unknown, and the place of burial of Saint John the Warrior was gradually forgotten. But then he appeared to a certain pious woman and indicated the place of his repose. It became known throughout the region. His uncovered relics were placed in a church of the Apostle John the Theologian in Constantinople. The Lord granted the relics of Saint John the Warrior the graced power of healing. Through the prayers of Saint John the aggrieved and sorrowing received comfort.

In the Russian Church, Saint John the Warrior is sacredly revered as a great intercessor in sorrows and difficult circumstances. More Martyr John the Warrior  

The Monk Sava of Storozhevsk and Zvenigorod

Russian Icon

Private Collection

The Monk Sava of Storozhevsk and Zvenigorod, in his early youth left the world, accepting tonsure under the Monk Sergei of Radonezh, for whom he was one of the first disciples and co-ascetics.

The Monk Savva loved the quiet life, he shunned conversing with people and he lived in constant toil, in lamentation over the poverty of his soul and remembrance of the judgement of God. Savva was a model of simplicity and humility, and he attained to such a depth of spiritual wisdom, that “in the monastery of the Monk Sergei he was a spiritual confessor to all the brethren”. When Great Prince Dimitrii Donskoy, in gratitude for the victory over Mamai, built the monastery of the Uspenie-Dormition of the Mother of God at the River Dubenka, Savva became its hegumen, with the blessing of the Monk Sergei. Preserving the simple manner of his ascetic lifestyle, he ate food only of plants, wore coarse clothing and slept on the ground. 

The Monk Sava of Storozhevsk and Zvenigorod

Russian Icon

Private Collection

Prince Yurii Dimitrievich Zvenigorodsky, regarded the Monk Savva with great love and esteem. He chose the Monk Savva as his spiritual father and besought him to come and bestow blessing upon all his household. The monk had hoped to return to his monastery, but the prince prevailed upon him to remain and set in place a new monastery, “in his fatherland, near Zvenigorod, where the place was called Storozh”. 

On the Storozhevsk heights, where formerly was encamped a sentinel, guarding Moscow from enemies, he set up a small wooden church of the Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God, and not far off from it made a small cell for himself. The monk toiled much at the building up of his monastery.

In 1399 the Monk Savva blessed his spiritual son, prince Yurii, to go off on a military campaign, and he predicted victory over the enemy. Through the prayers of the holy elder, the forces of the prince were granted a speedy victory. Through the efforts of the Monk Savva, a stone church of the Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God was also built.

Saint Savva died at an advanced age on 3 December 1406. More The Monk Sava of Storozhevsk and Zvenigorod,

A RUSSIAN ICON OF ST. ALEXIS MAN OF GOD, 18TH CENTURY

a full length image of the Saint dressed in a simple cloak holding a cross and a scroll. His garments highlighted with gold, in the upper left Christ delivers a blessing

28 inches x 16.75 inches (71.5 x 43 cm)

Private Collection

Saint Alexius was an Eastern saint whose veneration was later transplanted to Rome. The relocation of the cult to Rome was facilitated by the belief that the saint was a native of Rome and had died there. 

This Roman connection stemmed from an earlier Syriac legend which recounted that during the episcopate of Bishop Rabbula (412-435) a “Man of God” who lived in Edessa, Mesopotamia as a beggar, and who shared the alms he received with other poor people, was found to be a native of Rome after his death

Alexius was the only son of Euphemianus, a wealthy Christian Roman of the senatorial class. He fled his arranged marriage to follow his holy vocation. Disguised as a beggar, he lived near Edessa in Syria

St. Alexis, Man of God (XVII century.)

A miraculous icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary (later this image was called Madonna of St.Alexius) singled him out as a “Man of God.”

Fleeing the resultant notoriety, he returned to Rome, so changed that his parents did not recognize him, but as good Christians sheltered him for seventeen years, which he spent in a dark cubbyhole beneath the stairs. After his death, his family found writings on his body which told them who he was and how he had lived his life of penance from the day of his wedding, for the love of God. More Saint Alexius

The Life of St. Alexia (XI century)

St. Clement’s Basilica in Rome

A LARGE RUSSIAN ICON WITH THREE APOSTLE SAINTS, 19TH CENTURY.

26.75 inches x 22 inches (68 x 56 cm)

Private Collection

From left to right depicting the Apostle Andrew (Below), the Apostle Phillip (Below), and the Apostle Bartholomew (Below).

St. Andrew (Romanian)

Holding the scroll of knowledge and extending a benediction

Andrew the Apostle (from the early 1st century – mid to late 1st century AD), also known as Saint Andrew was a Christian Apostle and the brother of Saint Peter.

The name “Andrew”, like other Greek names, appears to have been common among the Jews, Christians, and other Hellenized people of Judea. No Hebrew or Aramaic name is recorded for him. According to Orthodox tradition, the apostolic successor to Saint Andrew is the Patriarch of Constantinople. More Andrew the Apostle 

Most references to Andrew in the New Testament simply include him on a list of the Twelve Apostles, or group him with his brother, Simon Peter. But he appears acting as an individual three times in the Gospel of John. When a number of Greeks wish to speak with Jesus, they approach Philip, who tells Andrew, and the two of them tell Jesus. (It may be relevant here that both “Philip” and “Andrew” are Greek names.) Before Jesus feeds the Five Thousand, it is Andrew who says, “Here is a lad with five barley loaves and two fish.” And the first two disciples whom John reports as attaching themselves to Jesus are Andrew and another disciple (whom John does not name, but who is commonly supposed to be John himself). Having met Jesus, Andrew then finds his brother Simon and brings him to Jesus. Thus, on each occasion when he is mentioned as an individual, it is because he is instrumental in bringing others to meet the Saviour. In the Episcopal Church, the Fellowship of Saint Andrew is devoted to encouraging personal evangelism, and the bringing of one’s friends and colleagues to a knowledge of the Gospel of Christ. More Andrew

Andrew is said to have been martyred by crucifixion at the city of Patras (Patræ) in Achaea. Early texts describe Andrew as bound, not nailed, and crucified on a cross of the form called crux decussata, now commonly known as a “Saint Andrew’s Cross” 

Apostle Philip (of the Twelve)

Philip the Apostle was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. Later Christian traditions describe Philip as the apostle who preached in Greece, Syria, and Phrygia. Philip is described as a disciple from the city of Bethsaida, and the evangelist connects him with Andrew and Peter, who were from the same town. He also was among those surrounding John the Baptist when the latter first pointed out Jesus as the Lamb of God.

Of the four Gospels, Philip figures most prominently in the Gospel of John. Philip is asked by Jesus how to feed 5,000 people. Later he appears as a link to the Greek community. Philip bore a Greek name, may have spoken Greek, and may have been known to the Greek pilgrims in Jerusalem. He advises Andrew that certain Greeks wish to meet Jesus, and together they inform Jesus of this. During the Last Supper, when Philip asked Jesus to show them the Father, he provides Jesus the opportunity to teach his disciples about the unity of the Father and the Son.

According to this account, through a miraculous healing and his preaching Philip converted the wife of the proconsul of the city. This enraged the proconsul, and he had Philip, Bartholomew, and Mariamne were all tortured. Philip and Bartholomew were then crucified upside-down, and Philip preached from his cross. As a result of Philip’s preaching the crowd released Bartholomew from his cross, but Philip insisted that they not release him, and Philip died on the cross. Another legend is that he was martyred by beheading in the city of Hierapolis. More Philip the Apostle

ST. BARTHOLOMEW 

Bartholomew the Apostle was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. He has been identified with Nathanael,  although some modern commentators reject the identification of Nathanael with Bartholomew.

Bartholomew was born at Cana of Galilee. Ecclesiastical History  states that after the Ascension, Bartholomew went on a missionary tour to India, where he left behind a copy of the Gospel of Matthew. Other traditions record him as serving as a missionary in Ethiopia, Mesopotamia, Parthia, and Lycaonia. Popular traditions and legends say that Bartholomew preached the Gospel in India, then went to Greater Armenia.

He is said to have been martyred in Albanopolis in Armenia. According to one account, he was beheaded, but a more popular tradition holds that he was flayed alive and crucified, head downward. He is said to have converted Polymius, the king of Armenia, to Christianity. Astyages, Polymius’ brother, consequently ordered Bartholomew’s execution. More Bartholomew

Acknowledgement:  Jackson’s International Auctioneers and Appraisers, and others

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Author: zaidangallery

I search Art History for Beautiful works that may, or may not, have a secondary or unexpected story to tell. I then write short summaries that grow from my research. Art work is so much more when its secrets are exposed

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