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Temple Gallery

Established 1959

Saint Nicholas - exhibited at the Temple Gallery, specialists in Russian icons

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WW006. Saint Nicholas of Mozhaisk

Russian, Moscow (?)
16th century
31.5 x 27.1 cmClick here to convert metric size to imperial

Provenance:  Private collection, Denmark

£7,500 [Sold]Click here to convert price to USD or EUR

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Saint Nicholas is shown in full-length standing in the centre of the panel. He is wearing the classical clothing of a bishop. Both of his arms are stretched outward - his right hand holds a sword, while his left hand holds a miniature of the Russian city of Mozhaisk (see below). On either side of his shoulders are two small roundels with half-length figures of Christ (left-side) and the Virgin (right-side). St Nicholas stands within a pillar-framed arch with numerous clouds around him signifying a supernal space. He stands upon a platform which is also shaped like a cloud, but which most probably represents the orlets that a bishop stands upon when officiating in a church, and symbolises his role as an overseer, or protector of a city

The iconography is Russian in origin and derives from the 14th century. According to tradition, when the western city of Mozhaisk (Orlov region) was being invaded by the Mongols in the 14th century, the inhabitants of Mozhaisk prayed to St Nicholas and received a vision of him holding a sword in his right hand and the city on his left, as we find in the iconography. The Mongol army also saw the imposing figure of St Nicholas in the sky and it terrified them into retreat.

The confident execution and style of our version points to 16th century and possibly Moscow. A compositionally similar work from mid-16th century Moscow can be seen below (fig. a). While an even closer version from the same period that belonged to the Voitegoviches Family and is now in the Sergiev-Posad Museum (fig. b).

Fig. a. St Nicholas of Mozhaisk, Moscow, 1540-1550 CE, published in Shedevre Russkoi Ikonpisi XIV - XVI century, (Moscow, 2009)

Fig. b. St. Nicholas of Mozhaisk, family icon of the Voitegoviches, 16th century, Sergiev-Posad Museum, Sergiev-Posad, Russia

Detail Images