Lot 235
  • 235

A Russian Gilded Silver Presentation Triptych Icon, Ovchinnikov, Moscow, 1899-1908

18,000 - 24,000 USD
31,250 USD
bidding is closed


  • tempera or oil on metal panels, gilded silver
the arched apertures with panels depicting Christ Pantocrator, flanked by St. Nicholas the Wonderworker and St. Vladimir, the frames finely cast and chased with columns and scrolling floral strapwork, the exterior of the hinged doors similarly decorated and closing with a Byzantine cross and shaped hasp, the back with a suspension ring and dedicatory inscription in Cyrillic reading: "To His Excellency [Member of] the Suite of His Imperial Majesty Major General V.F. Dzhunkovsky from the grateful peasants of the Ramensky Rural Society of Bronnitsky uezd, 19 January 1913." 


V.F. Dzhunkovsky (1865-1938)
Acquired by Waldo Ruess (1909-2007) while posted to the US Embassy in Moscow between 1944 and 1946
Acquired by the current owner from the family of the above

Catalogue Note

Bronnitsky lies sixty km south east from the center of Moscow, with Ramenskoye only 15km up river, and both fall within the Moscow district of which Vladimir Fedorovich Dzhunkovsky was Governor-General from 1908 to January 25, 1913. The inscription on the featured lot indicates that the icon was likely a token of gratitude to the governor after five year’s benevolent service. The inclusion of St. Nicholas, who is revered for his miracle working and charitable giving, and St. Vladimir, who united the Kievan Rus under Christianity, references the social enterprises initiated throughout the district by Dzhunkovsky. These included the Museum of Fine Arts of Alexander III (now the A.S. Pushkin State Museum of Fine Art), The Moscow Institute of Commerce and the P.G. Shelaputin Pedagogical Institute.

However Dzhunkovsky is, sadly, better known for the less palatable positions he subsequently held. As First Deputy Interior Minister from 1913 he reduced the extravagant expenditure of the Okhrana, the Imperial Secret Police, and tried desperately to defend what remained of Imperial authority against threats ranging from oil workers’ strikes in Baku to Grigori Rasputin’s overbearing influence on the Royal household. In 1915 Dzhunkovsky personally presented a report to the Tsar outlining the Siberian holy man’s salacious and scandalous behaviour, compiled from months of close surveillance, which resulted directly in his fall from grace. Through his Vospominaniia za 1915 (Reflections on 1915), Dzhunkovsky provides us with a telling insight into the politics that dictated the Russian autocracy at this time: “I am convinced,  that the Sovereign, in dismissing me, did not for a minute doubt my correctness…but against the Empress of course I could not stand my ground…”.

In August of that year he requested to be sent to the front line. Despite having been so closely affiliated with the previous regime, Dzhunkovsky remained loyal to his country under the Soviets. However he was repeatedly arrested on the accusation of suppressing the 1905 revolution and on February 2, 1938, aged 73, he was executed by the NKVD.