Temple Gallery

Established 1959

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

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VV030. Saint Nicholas

Russian, Kholui
19th century
39 x 30.5 cmClick here to convert metric size to imperial

£1,400Click here to convert price to USD or EUR

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St Nicholas is shown in half-length, wearing the classical vestments of a bishop. His right hand is raised in an ancient gesture signifying oration (or teaching), while he is holding an open gospel book in his left hand. His eyes gaze directly at the viewer. Two roundels - containing Christ in the left (blessing Nicholas) and the Mother of God in the right (holding a veil) - surround Nicholas on either side of the saint's shoulders.

This icon was painted in Kholui, which, along with Palekh and Mstera, was an icon painting centre that produced icons on an industrial scale (sometimes hundreds of icons a day)[1] for pilgrims and the peasantry, and thus was influenced by contemporary Russian folk art. They are simple, humble works, yet 'these popular icons can exude great charm and sincerity', as Wendy R. Salmond writes about the Kholui school.[2] An example of an icon depicting the Crucifixion from a Kholui workshop can be seen in the Hillwood Museum in Washington (fig. a).

Fig. a. Crucifixion in Four parts, Kholui, 1800-1900, Hillwood Gallery, Washington, US

Our version of St Nicholas can be compared to other 19th century examples of the same iconography from similar Russian workshops, such as two objects currently in the State Research Institute for Restoration in Moscow (fig's b and c).

Fig. b. St Nicholas, Russian, 19th century, State Research Institute for Restoration, Moscow, Russia

Fig. c. St Nicholas, Palekh, 19th century, State Research Institute for Restoration, Moscow, Russia

1. Wendy R. Salmond, Tradition in Transition: Russian Icons in the Age of the Romanovs, (Washington, Hillwood Galleries, 2004), p. 57
2. Ibid. p. 59

Detail Images