A MONUMENTAL ICON OF THE PROPHET ELIJAH SURROUNDED WITH SCENES, Northern Russia, 17th century
- 107 by 83cm., 42 by 32¾in
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."
The scenes can be identified as follows (from left to right and from top to bottom):
1. The birth of Elijah, after which two angels swaddle him in cloth and feed him with fire.
2. Savvas, Elijah's father, tells about the miraculous birth of his son.
3. Elijah visits King Ahab and prophesies that a long period of drought will come.
4. Elijah stays in the desert and speaks to God.
5. A raven feeds Elijah near the brook Cherith.
6. Yahweh appears to Elijah in the desert.
7. Elijah brings back to life the son of the widow of Zarephath.
8. Elijah challenges Ahab.
9. The prophets of Baal call in vain upon their god to try to kindle wood for a bull sacrifice.
10. Elijah calls upon his God Yahweh, after which the wood immediately bursts into flames.
11. Elijah kills the prophets of Baal.
12. Elijah flees to the desert.
13. Elijah speaks to Elishah while ploughing.
14. The Fiery Ascent of Elijah.
The prophet Elijah lived in the 9th century BC at the time of King Ahab. His name derives from the Hebrew Elijahu (My God is Yahweh). Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal and had a reputation for performing miracles. He gathered several disciples around him, the most famous of whom became the prophet Elishah later on. After Elijah ascended to heaven in a chariot of fire, it was popular belief that he had not died but travelled between heaven and earth to assist and offer help in emergencies. This is the reason why a few onlookers at the Crucifixion of Christ mistakenly believed: ' He called Elijah' (Matthew 27, 47).
The icon is painted in bright colours and in a powerful, expressive style. Ochre tints, red, blue and green dominate the palette. The specific style of painting points out the icon was painted in the north of Russia where Elijah was extremely popular. The icon's large size suggests that in all probability it originally functioned as the titular icon in a church dedicated to Elijah. In that function it would have been placed in the so-called local tier (the bottom tier) of the iconostasis.