The highly individual style of painting indicates a Ukrainian, or more precisely Carpathian, origin although the overall format is characteristic of a group of icons produced in Novgorod in the 15th and 16th centuries. For example, the general composition and counterpose of Christ, whereby he turns his body to the right in carrying Mary’s soul, in the form of a child, to heaven but also cranes his neck left in a final glance at the mortal remains of his mother, draw on the Novgorod style of icon painting. No doubt conceived as part of a larger iconostasis, the surrounding figures continue to retain a great strength of expressive emotion.
An integral figure to the Czech avant-garde, Emil Filla's art was strongly influenced by that of the past. Filla's collection, which was comparable to that of Pablo Picasso and André Breton in its focus on Primitive art and sculpture, provides us with insight into his aesthetic. With the assistance of such artefacts, these artists were able to drastically and influentially re-conceptualise their approach to painting and the arts. When one considers the dramatic emotional rendering of the facial features in the present icon, Filla's fascination with Expressionism, which differentiated him from other artists of the period, is more readily comprehensible.
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