Russian Art from the Hulmer Collection

Icon of Christ Holding Orb

Russian, ca. 1831
8 1/16" by 9 3/16"
Oil on wood panel with silvered metal okhlad
Allegheny College Collection No. 524
Provenance: Hulmer Estate No. 513

This icon of Christ is a delicate yet powerful evocation of Christ's essence both as embodied flesh and divine spirit. His robes are red and blue, the red symbolizing earthly humanity and the blood of his Passion and the deep celestial blue his humility and the mystery of his Divinity. The pose is that of Christ the Ruler of All holding an orb that is topped with a cross to represent God over Earth, supporting Earth, and on Earth. But where the traditional Byzantine images emphasized Christ's authority, the soft, westernizing style of this icon exudes a soulful serenity.

Christ blesses with his right hand. In 1666, the Orthodox Church adopted the sign of the cross or the blessing gesture, formed by placing the ring finger on the thumb and bending the middle finger below the index finger. The index and middle fingers represent the two natures of Christ: the index is humanity; the middle is divinity. The middle finger, or divine nature, is bent below the human nature to show how the divine humbled himself to save us from our sin by taking human flesh. The positioning of the fingers symbolizes the Holy Trinity and also spells CC, the Greek abbreviation for Jesus Christ

Christ with Open Book

Russian, Nineteenth Century
8 9/16" by 10 5/8"
Oil on wood panel with silvered metal okhlad
Allegheny College Collection No. 525
Provenance: Hulmer Estate No. 514

This icon utilizes the popular imagery of the book as in the Pantocrator icons and mosaics. Christ is blessing the observer and is holding an open book which contains the inscription: "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden" (Mt 11:28). Whereas the Pantokrator image traditionally stresses the divine authority, this message seems directed toward a sentimental, middle-class laity. The flat and uninspired execution of this icon denotes a provincial style, while the incomplete painting under the okhlad is another indication of its low quality.

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These icons and their respective images and information belong to Allegheny College, located in Meadville, PA. Neither the images nor the information concerning them shall be used for any reasons other than private, non-commercial viewing purposes. Please contact us if you wish to use the images for any other reason.

This page was compiled by Amelia Carr, from research by Janine Confer from the original exhibition catalog text.

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