Temple Gallery

Established 1959

Virgin of Kazan - exhibited at the Temple Gallery, specialists in Russian icons

[ Click on the above image for a full screen view ]

UU020. Virgin of Kazan

Circa 1800
30.8 x 27.4 cmClick here to convert metric size to imperial

Provenance:  Collection George Costakis, which included a small number of Russian icons. This icon was inherited by his grandson from whom it was acquired by the Temple Gallery. Accompanied by a certified export permit from the Hellenic Republic Ministry of Culture and the Directorate General of Antiquities and Cultural Heritage.

£3,500 [Sold]Click here to convert price to USD or EUR

[ Click on any image for a larger view ]   Switch to full-screen mode

George Costakis (1913 - 1990) was a collector of Russian art whose collection became the most representative body of Modern Russian avant-garde art anywhere in the world. In the years surrounding the 1917 revolution, artists in Russia produced the first non-figurative art, which was to become the defining art of the 20th century. Costakis by chance discovered some constructivist paintings in a Moscow studio in 1946, and he went on to search for the revolutionary art which might otherwise have been lost to the world. He became Head of Personnel for the Canadian Embassy. In the 1960s the apartment of George Costakis in Moscow had become a meeting place for international art collectors and art lovers in general: Russia's unofficial Museum of Modern Art. The 'détente' period following the signing of the Paris Peace Accords in 1973 opened up Russia once again to international cultural exchanges the first of which was the showing of the Costakis Collection in Düsseldorf in 1977. The same year Costakis, with his family, left the Soviet Union and moved to Greece, but there was an agreement that he should leave 50 per cent of his collection in the State Tretyakov Gallery of Moscow. In 1997 the Greek State bought the remaining 1275 works. They are now a part of the permanent collection of the State Museum of Contemporary Art, in Thessaloniki, Greece. ( An account of a visit to the collection in Costaki’s Moscow apartmemt in is in Henry E. Catto, Jr Ambassadors at Sea: The High and Low Adventures of a Diplomat p. 11.

This example is one of the many icons after the prototype of the Virgin which was discovered on July 8, 1579 by Matrona, a young girl in the city of Kazan. The date corresponds to Ivan the Terrible’s capture of Kazan, the ancient capital of the Tatar Mongols. According to tradition the location of the image was revealed to her by the Mother of God. The original icon was kept in the Theotokos Monastery of Kazan built to commemorate the spot where it had been discovered. The icon, considered miraculous in the Orthodox tradition, was brought to Saint Petersburg by Peter the Great. It was carried by the army, led by Prince Dimitri Pozharski, which liberated Moscow from the Poles in 1612. The following year Mikhail Romanov was elected Tsar and the icon became the patroness of the Romanovs. His son Aleksei decreed a holiday to commemorate the appearance of the miraculous icon.

Detail Images