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  • Two-Sided Tablet Icon: 'The Old Testament Trinity' and 'The Finding of the Head of St John the Baptist and Sts Forty Martyrs of Sebaste'

    Technique:
    tempera on canvas and gilding
    Dimensions:
    22,9x17,3 cm

Two-Sided Tablet Icon: 'The Old Testament Trinity' and 'The Finding of the Head of St John the Baptist and Sts Forty Martyrs of Sebaste'

Russia, First half of the 16th century

Tablet icons came to be known as such in the early 20th century; before that in Old Russia these icons painted on canvas were called "towels". They were placed on an analogion on the festivals depicted on the icon. Several compositions on a single icon was a common occurrence. The first subject here, The Old Testament Trinity, is based on the Bible story of how God appeared to Abraham in the form of three angels in the plains of Mamre (Genesis xviii). In Russian icon-painting several traditional versions of the composition were to be found. This image belongs to the "Abraham's Hospitality" type, which is a detailed depiction of Abraham and his wife Sarah with the Lord. The Finding of the Head of St John the Baptist occupies the top half of the reverse of the tablet. St John's head lies in a golden bowl approached and revered by a young king in a golden headdress and by servants of the church. Various Christian festivals record the miraculous finding of St John the Baptist's head centuries after he was put to death. The second scene on the reverse shows the forty martyrs of Sebaste, Christian warriors who refused to make sacrifices to pagan gods, for which they were tortured and put to death. One of the tortures involved spending the night in a lake being slowly covered with ice. The tablet icon was painted by a Novgorod master who made use of Moscow models: for instance The Old Testament Trinity reveals the clear influence of Andrei Rublev's work on the same subject.

School:

Title:

Two-Sided Tablet Icon: 'The Old Testament Trinity' and 'The Finding of the Head of St John the Baptist and Sts Forty Martyrs of Sebaste'

Place:

Technique:

tempera on canvas and gilding

Dimensions:

22,9x17,3 cm

Acquisition date:

Entered the Hermitage in 1963; purchased from a private person

Inventory Number:

ЭРИ-505

Category: