This icon represents a particularly rare aspect of a well-known gift-giving ritual of late Imperial Russia. During the latter half of the nineteenth century, a tradition evolved in which the nobles of the various Russian guberniia — a geographical division roughly equal to a state or province in size and authority — commissioned lavish silver bread and salt plates as gifts on the occasion of the coronation of a new tsar. These gifts were displayed during the coronation festivities and reproduced in the various souvenir publications published in honor of the event. Gifts given specifically by members of the peasantry, particularly luxury items such as this icon with a gilded silver and enameled cover (oklad), are far more rare. The Radom guberniia, one of Imperial Russia's westernmost provinces, shared borders with the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Germany. As of the 1897 census, the majority of the population was Catholic, Jewish, or Lutheran, and did not share the Tsar's Orthodox faith. This fact undoubtedly accounts for the somewhat unusual iconography and language of the dedicatory inscription. While European academic painting had already had a great impact on Russian icons, the view of the Savior slightly turned to one side and the position of his hands marks a clear departure from the Orthodox iconography of Christ Pantrocrator and probably has much to do with the sort of imagery more familiar to Catholics and Lutherans. The description of the peasants of Radom as vernopodannye, a word that conveys the faithfulness and loyalty of one adopted into the Empire who retains something of the identity of an outsider, suggests that they hoped the new tsar would show tolerance of the many faiths professed in the region.
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