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The icon is very finely painted in conformity with the exacting standards of the Old Believers. This can be seen in the precision of the brushwork, the stylisation of the calligraphy and above all in the expression that manages to combine severity, tenderness and compassion.
The icon was almost certainly the right hand image of a group of three icons constituting a Deesis. The present whereabouts of the other two icons, Christ and the Mother of God, is unknown.
The scroll contains a combination of quotations, from John 1:29-30, Matthew 3:2 and Luke 3:9:
Сей бѣ иже предо мною бѣ се агнецъ б(o)жий вземляй грѣхи всего мира покаите ся приближи бо ся ц(a)рствие б(o)жие уже бо и сѣкира при корени др(ева) лежитъ
'This was (he) who was before me. Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the whole world. Repent for the kingdom of God has drawn near. For already the axe lies at the root of the tree.'
We are grateful to our colleague John Hampton for providing this translation.